When you’re 15

I spend every Wednesday evening with a room full of high school freshman girls. What started as a random placement has come to be the light of my week. These girls keep me young while reminding me of what true love and what Christ has the power to do. They have taught me how to open my heart and laugh while doing it. When they hurt, I hurt, but when they exclaim in joy, I break out in dance.

My wish for this year spent with them is that I will be able to make a difference in their hearts. That the relationship I build with them brings them closer to the Lord, closer to each other, and farther from the desires of this world. My prayer is that these girls, when they feel like they’ve fallen, will remember how much they are worth.

This letter is for that room full of girls. This letter is for every young girl who needs a reminder of their purpose in this world.

Nothing is as it seems. None of this will matter in eight years.
What seems like the end of the world today, is not. What seems like something small and insignificant might become a huge turning point in your life. Never miss the small moments, but never allow yourself to get wrapped up in the dumb things. Eight years from now, you will not remember that shirt your mom bought you that you didn’t like. You will not remember that girl who laughed when you tripped in the staircase. You will not remember what you ate for lunch in the high school cafeteria, the grades you got in that earth science class, the name of the boy who took a different girl to homecoming. You will remember those who stood by you. You will remember the role models and teachers that invested their hearts in you. You will remember the little things that made you smile on those hard days and the bright lights that continually provide you comfort.

The people that give you a hard time are insecure bullies.
In what world does the “mean girl” feel good about themselves? The people that try so hard to tear others down to build themselves up only do it because they can’t figure out how to love themselves like you already do. You have this beautiful relationship with those you love and with the Lord, so stay invested in those and not the person who went out of their way to tell you they didn’t care about your feelings. You are better than those who purposely hurt others just to climb a social ladder. They will quickly realize that pushing others down does not make them any happier about themselves, that taking away other people’s happiness just creates even larger of a void in their hearts.

Your best friends are the ones that stand by you, no matter what.
Spend quality time with those you love, and do not be afraid to let go of those who are toxic. Walk away from the people who make you feel like a burden when you’re being yourself, but hold dearly onto the beautiful souls that push you to discover yourself in new ways. Go out of your way for the people who love you for being you: these people are the ones that change your life for the better.

Stop apologizing for being so in touch with your emotions.
It’s a good thing to have feelings. Crying is okay, laughing is okay. It’s okay to be sad, to be mad, to be hurt, to be confused. Keeping it all in, bottling it up, and pushing these feelings away do not cause them to leave: just ignoring them will make you feel worse. Don’t ever apologize if you break into a fit of tears. There is no need to explain why you’re sad, excited, overwhelmed. You are not too little, you are not too much. Love every tear that falls from your beautiful eyes, love every laughter-filled snort that escapes your huge smile.

Appreciate your family and everything they do.
You’ll miss their little quirks and the energy they bring when you are not around them every day. Listen to your mom when she tells you to be careful on the road and listen to your dad when he tells dumb jokes: you’ll soon realize just how important both of these things are. When your little sister wants to tag along with you and your friends, let her. When your brother is making fun of you, laugh along with him. You will not always live on the same hallway as the people you were lucky enough to share a childhood with.

Don’t try to be someone you’re not and embrace who you really are.
Carry yourself with confidence that you find in yourself and in those who love you. Do not stifle the things about yourself that create your identity, do not hide away what the world so clearly needs to see in you. The Lord delights in His creation of you, so so should you. You would tell your best friend to be herself and to follow her heart, so it’s about time you follow that same advice.

Boys are not the whole world. Never put your self worth in their hands.
That’s not a lesson you want to learn the hard way. This is a lesson that I am still learning, and that we both will continue to learn. When a boy tries to put a label on how much you are worth to them, remember: you are not here to meet someone else’s needs, you are not a mold of someone else’s desires. When you hold your own self worth, a boy can never ever take that away from you, no matter how much they try. When you love yourself more than a boy ever could, you show them just how special you are.

Don’t be afraid of any part of you. You’re so much more than your body size and outside beauty.
Scales are for fish, they are not for you to determine your worth. The next time you buy clothes, do not pay attention to what is written on the tag. Your value cannot be found in a number. Maybe you think you have one too many freckles, too crooked of eyes, maybe your skin isn’t perfect and your foot has a scar down one side. Do not let these things get you down because you are so much more than your skin and bones. When the lights turn off, will I still believe you’re a beautiful person? Of course I will, because your beauty is found in your soul. Not in the name brand fleece jacket you’re wearing, not in how tan your skin may be, not in how straight or how dyed your hair is. All of this is disposable, but you, my darling, are far from temporary.

You’re going to grow in so many ways through high school and college that you can’t even begin to understand.
You do not know everything even though you think you do, and that is okay. Do not be intimidated by this, allow this to excite you and to push you forward. When you’re turning 23 and looking back on those periods in your life, you may not recognize who you were and that is okay. You will learn so much about who you are and where you will go in this world. You will come to see a future for yourself, and you might finally realize just how important your place is on this Earth. The world is so much bigger than the hallways of your high school, than the buildings down that tree-lined college campus. Allow these experiences to lead you to bigger and better things, do not let these times be the highest peaks in your life.

Always believe in yourself and always trust in God.
One of the easiest things to do is say you trust the Lord, but when the time comes, you find yourself seeking your own laid-out plan. It’s important that you understand to surrender and trust in the Lord. He knows your past and He knows your present and He has written your future. Believe in yourself and all you are capable of, and be reminded that the Lord will lead you in the right direction. He created you in His image, and while you are not perfect (surprise!), He is. He will point you in the right direction and hold your hand all the way there.

It’s not going to be all good, but it’s gonna be all-good.
It’s okay if you don’t feel okay. Don’t ever be afraid to reach out and get help if you think you might need it. Nothing good comes out of hiding behind a wall of “I’m fine.” You are surrounded by peers, teachers, role models, mentors, supporters who have your back and will guide you to the right help. Keep your eyes on the Lord and keep your mind open to accepting help, and I promise you will come out strong. I care more about your heart than you know – so trust that I am here and I am not the only one.

Love yourself more and be confident in what makes you, you.
You will grow into the person you are supposed to become because of all the quirks and qualities that make you feel different. Normal is overrated, the only thing that makes us all the same is that we are all unique. What you may feel is your biggest quirk may be the thing others admire about you. What you feel sets you apart, does: and it does in a good way. You were not created to be a carbon copy of those around you: you were created to be an original of YOU.

Your passions are what save you from the world.
Stop apologizing for what you’re passionate about and truly live out your values. At work, my coworkers and I always say “never apologize for who you are.” If something lights up your heart and fills you with joy: do not lose that. It does not matter what it is, because if it is what you are passionate about, no one can take that away from you. Do not give up if you don’t see a purpose, because I promise, if it is what you love, it is purposeful.

I love you.
I cannot even begin to tell you how loved you are and how much you are worth. If you are to remember one thing from this letter, let it be this: YOU ARE LOVED. You are a fire that cannot die. You are a light that will forever remain bright. You are a soul filled with joy that cannot be taken away. You are immensely loved and your presence on this Earth is a blessing.

To my dozen beautiful freshman girls, this is for you. May you always know how much I love you, but how much more the Lord loves you for being you.




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  1. The working of the Gift of Wisdom from one so young….!


  2. oh Emily – you are so wise!! I love that you are sharing this gift with so many young ladies (and older ladies too!)


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