Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dear 20-year old Jen

You just moved into you very first apartment and soon you will be starting your junior year in college. This is going to be a fun year in school because you FINALLY get to do some real classroom work and you don't have to eat in the cafeteria anymore (truth is you will kind of miss it). You will spend the rest of the year eating tuna, top ramon, soup, and beans. Sounds glorious huh? BUT you will adore the classrooms you get to intern in and the time you get in-front of kiddos. You'll finally start feeling like you can actually be a teacher.

Looking back at the last 10 years you have changed quite a bit and yet are still the same in lots of ways too. Sherwood was good for you, especially once you got involved in sports; soccer and basketball. You were awkward during those middle schools years, but sports still worked for you. You were never the star but you weren't on the bench either. Your body changed a lot and let's just say that you were one of those unlucky girls who grew out before you grew up. It hurt when you looked around and saw girls who seemed so skinny and pretty. But you held your head high and hung on to the things you were good at: sports, school, and being friendly to everyone. Only your Mom knew the many tears you cried about your body and how much it really bothered you.
You (age 20) and your brother, Mark (age 18, right before he graduated)

Sports, leadership, school, and eventually youth group kept you going during those high school years. You watched other kids struggle in HS, which confused you because you had an absolute BLAST! You tried and did everything. I love this about you. You had something every second of the day. Soccer, basketball, softball, president of your class, president of FCA and Youth Alive, 3 mission trips to Mexico, youth group leader, worship leader, youth leader at the junior high youth group, a trip to Washington DC for school, Hobby youth student, track and field, wrestling scorekeeper, boys basketball stat keeper, you organized and was MC to almost every school assembly, Link Crew leader, and the list could go on. You were busy!

Somewhere in those High School years something happened. You shot up. And that awkward body began to find itself, you realized very quickly that although it wasn't your favorite sport to play softball was your thing. Coaches promised dreams of college scholarships and you were sure that this was exactly what God had planned for you. It confused you when doctors said things like "you'll never play again" and "you'll be lucky if you can walk well after this surgery". You were crushed when you realized that you were not going to be an athlete anymore.

You walked into college with an uncertainty you had not had in a long time. The Jen "Bush" you knew so well in Sherwood High was so longer there. No one in college cared about the many leadership roles you had, you couldn't play sports anymore, and everyone in college seemed prettier, more talented, and A LOT smarter than you. And so when an older boy noticed you, you did exactly what you knew you shouldn't and fell hard. Freshman year was spent with upper class-men instead of the other freshman you should have hung out with. You put all your self worth in the hands of a boy and so when he was gone you felt gone too.

It hurt having your heart broken. But what hurt more is that you had lost yourself. You didn't know who you were anymore and you faith in your Savior was hurting. For the first time you began to realize that although you loved God very much deep down you thought His love was conditional. That the times when you were good or did good things you thought that God loved you more. When you messed up or did something "wrong" God's love somehow felt less. This is a sad faith to have, because eventually you can't keep this "good" act up and what then? You did some good soul searching and realized that in all the ups and downs over the years one thing NEVER changed and that was God's love for you. That you were his precious child and that he loved you no more or less all the time. That before you were ever a thought in your parent's mind that God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to die for you.

You're 20 now and in such a good place. You have quite a year ahead of you. You will continue to love on the youth you have been working with the last year. You are lucky to get to love on these girls and their families. You learn so much during this time. God begins giving you a passion to take your gift teaching and us it to bring glory to His name. This is the first time in a long time that you realize that maybe God has some cool things planned for your life.

The friends you have right now will be life long friends and you'll make some of the best memories this year. Have fun girl!

Soon (very soon) a certain boy is going to ask you out. And guess what? He is going to be your husband! You will have a fun year dating and next year at this time you'll be planning a wedding. Exciting right?

Until I write the 30 year old letter......

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