Letter to My High School Self

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Do you ever think about the person you were in high school and wonder why you were so self-critical? Courtney DeFeo shares her encouraging letter to her "high school self."

Last weekend I went to my 20th high school reunion and had a chance to look through old photos and reconnect with friends. It made me want to write this letter. Hope it will encourage someone out there. Maybe my girls one day.

Hey there, Court...

Wisdom and perspective is something you often gain only with time – roughly 20 years of time, lessons and experiences. However, here are a few things I wish you knew right now as a graduating senior.

You are far more loved than you know – by God and by your friends.

You feel and know the love of your parents – you know you hit the jackpot there. Although you don’t always treat them the best – you give the eye rolls and don’t give them your best. Deep down, you know you’ve got it good with Mike and Mimi. They are awesome. Go give them an extra hug today and thank them for how hard they work for you.

As far as God – He sees you and knows you. It’s OK you’re messing up. He loves you just as you are – and has a crazy ride coming for you. Follow the nudge you already sense to be different and don’t listen to the “goodie goodie” comments – just roll your eyes and be you. Trying to be cool and ignoring His nudge will only delay His purpose for you. Have the courage to draw near to Him. He’ll use every bit of your life for good.

As far as your friends – your sensitive heart makes you doubt if they really like you. They really, really do. Sure, there is high school drama – that’s part of life. You are a bridge between the cool crowd and those often left out – you know both sides well. Keep inviting friends and working hard to love others well. You feel it deep inside to encourage and never see anyone hurt. It’s how God made you. Follow it. When you feel caught in a game of exclusivity, you can gracefully bow out and still be friends with those you love.

Create margin.

This is a term you are going to learn about later, but I’m going to ask you to try it now. When you find something you love, you give it your all – at the expense of your own health and sanity. So, right now it’s dance. You lead, dance, teach and volunteer and do whatever anyone needs. Practice boundaries and how to say no politely now, because this is going to be hard for you as your grow. Your servant heart will lead you to great things, but you’ll get weary from giving too much each season. Practice the no now!

You are stinkin' gorgeous.

Did you know that a size 8 or 10 is not fat? You think you are the largest person who walked in high school and I’m looking at your photos. You’re just precious. Ask God to give you one glimpse in the mirror of how He sees you – how your family sees you – and others. You are super hard on yourself. Just gorgeous. Don’t give it another thought. Spend more time being the best YOU and less time being like others you admire. I mean,  how seriously awesome is your blue bedazzled prom dress? Mimi and Mike splurged for that one to make you feel mighty special on this night. Go hug them again.

Make time for Him.

You feel unsettled and you don’t know why. I’ll tip you off. You put Jesus on hold. You’ll find Him again later (years later), and it will be like you’re home again. If you don’t want to wait, then spend time with a youth group you love or in Young Life, or find an older Christian girl who can mentor you. You won’t regret it.

Stay grateful.

You got this from your mom, but keep telling those teachers and those lost in the cracks that they matter. She taught you how to use your words for influence. Keep on doing it. Write 'em, say 'em every day to light up another person’s heart. This will be your life’s mission one day, but these moments will be how it all started. Be the teacher’s pet, not because you’re awesome but because you want him to know God is real.

Warning!

There’s a tough line between being “fun” and “funny” and too sarcastic – it can hurt feelings. So be careful with your words – you can’t take them back.

Don’t forget that every person walking down those halls is hurting and has a story. Take time to listen more than talk. You’ll probably assume someone is making fun of you or ignoring you, when really they are dealing with their own family pain or situation. You can be the one that cares or follows up or shows compassion when most high school kids care about #1 – themselves.

Lastly,  you’re going to be just fine, just fine. That hair. The hips. The grades. The lack of boyfriends.

All the things you worry about.

He’s got you. Always has.

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