You're 16 now, and you've just come home from an overseas mission trip. Your heart is broken--because while you were there you fell in love.
For the first time.
When you came home you told Nana that you'd met the person you were going to marry. Wanna hear something amazing?
In six years, you will. But six years is a lifetime away for you right now, so it's going to be hard for a while. You'll write letters to Steve every day (no email yet!), you won't be able to think about much else, and after several months you'll break up with him over the phone to try to make the dull ache inside go away. (Spoiler alert: You'll get married in 1998!)
Jamie, you have a gift of imagination. You're a visionary; you have dreams. Dreams of traveling, of writing, of changing the world.
Sadly, in a couple of years you're going to make some bad choices--and you'll think you've screwed everything up. You'll pack up all those dreams in a box marked "memories," thinking that they have no place in the real world of grown-ups, bills, and responsibilities.
But God is bigger than your mistakes, and He is a God of restoration. Eventually you'll let His waves of forgiveness wash over you and you'll start to see life through the remarkably clear lenses of grace.
Throw out your dreams--they are too small, anyway! God has even better things planned. You'll get to marry the love of your life, your children will be gathered to you from the ends of the earth, and when you're not even looking for it, a writing career will come and hunt you down.
So as Matthew told Anne with an "e" - "Don't give up all your romance, Jamie. A little of it is a good thing--not too much, of course--but keep a little of it, Jamie, keep a little of it."
Hang on to those dreams of yours--they're going to come in really handy.
Your 36-year-old self
P.S. One day you'll realize that the movie Dirty Dancing wasn't quite as life-changing as you thought.
I wrote this letter to celebrate fellow blogger Emily Freeman, whose new book Graceful (For Young Women): Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life recently released. I love Emily's blog Chatting at the Sky - head over there to read other letters to teenage selves today.