A Letter to my Teenage Self


It’s interesting coming back to the place of my youth.

I drive past the house on Flint, remembering with a smirk and a twinge of regret how I used to refuse to walk to school. I can’t even count how many left turns I made around the practice track every day before dialing my mom’s number to ask for a ride home.

Nevermind that my house backed right up to the field. And that I had just run miles. A simple right turn and a few extra strides would’ve easily carried me through our rickety alley gate, but I still insisted on being picked up. Gotta save face you know.

Fourteen years later, I walk past my car and across the street to a different school, where an empty classroom waits for the shuffle of fourth-grader feet and a new day’s lessons.

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to teach my teenage self a few things.

Like the value of a tank of gas and a mother’s time. Or how the chill on a winter morning isn’t so bad after all. It wakes the mind to creativity and the heart to new mercies. It prompts a prayer for the student who walks further still–maybe without a jacket.

If I could say anything to my fourteen, fifteen, sixteen-year-old self, I think it would be that life looks a lot different after you realize you’re not the center of it and were never intended to be.

Like Ptolemy and Aristotle, it is far too easy to mistakenly believe ourselves to be the point around which everything revolves. Maybe we all need a Copernicus to show us the rightful position of the sun.

Or the Son.

One thing I know for sure is that Jesus at the center of my universe is the only perspective I can handle. Anything else is chaos of the cosmic variety.

Piddly words cannot describe how hard I have tried to be the center. I’ve spun plates like planets, striving to orchestrate the orbits of a dozen endeavors at once …

“Be the smartest,
the sweetest,
the strongest,
no less.

Be the best.

Please the masses.
Remember to smile.
Leave an impression.
Be worthwhile.”

I was always jockeying for control, but the force of my gravity wasn’t enough. I can’t pinpoint the moment everything went careening into nothingness, but I do know that I eventually came to this conclusion:

I am not enough.

Really, I am nothing at all.

From that vantage point, I finally saw something worth looking at.

In all of His glory, Jesus. Seated on a throne that had been occupied by another for far too long–reigning over the kingdom of my heart at last. Not just Savior. Also Lord.

Jesus and no other.

I wasn’t made for center stage, but He sure was. And the crazy thing is …

When I look to Jesus instead of me, I find myself in His eyes. I discover that I am dearly loved.

Caught in the gaze of the all-seeing One, I stumble upon the soul-trembling truth that I am not nothing.

I am all that was needed to make the agony of the cross worth it to Him, and that is more than enough to satisfy my heart’s deepest longing.

Jesus only.

His plan is perfect, His performance complete. If I produce, it is only by virtue of being planted by Him and in Him. When I persevere, it is through His strength and not my own.

Christ alone.

Piddly words cannot describe the unfathomable peace and joy that come with that confession.

So …

Dear Teenage Self,

Life is so beautiful when Jesus is the center. Sometimes a single veer to the right is better than a thousand left turns. It’s worth listening to Copernicus.


28-year-old You

P.S. I needed this reminder too.

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.–Colossians 1:15-17

2 comments on “A Letter to my Teenage Self

  1. Sandy Finley

    Oh, my precious Holly.
    I absolutely adored the teenage you…..but I am in awe of the 28 year old you. You have come a long way baby. I am so proud of who you are and what you have become.
    Love Mom


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