A Letter To Myself in 1987

Dear Me in 1987,

First of all, Honey, we need to talk about the eye make-up. If God intended you to have electric blue eyelashes, He would’ve made you a Smurf.

Second of all, you’re not fat. Look in the mirror and memorize what (have mercy!) 105 pounds looks like, because you will never, NEVER see it again. The little babies you will someday house in that flat belly of yours will stretch it out to inhuman porportions. And you know what? You will think it’s beautiful.

You seem to be awfully preoccupied with the wrong kind of boy. Right now, the ability to throw a 40-yard touchdown pass seems like a very important trait in the opposite gender. It’s not. But I also know that, deep in your heart, you’re wondering if there’s more out there than jocks in letter jackets. You’re wondering if you’ll ever find someone to understand that deep part of your soul you haven’t shown to anyone in your little hometown. You’ll find him. He’ll knock your socks off. He’ll challenge you until your head spins, all while loving you just the way you are–and you will never be the same. (By the way, despite your best efforts, including that picture taped inside your locker, this magical "he" that you will find isn’t going to be John F. Kennedy, Jr. Trust me when I tell you you’re getting a much better deal.)

You don’t understand yet what a treasure your family is. You love them, and you depend on them, but you haven’t yet learned how much of the world lives without the kind of support and love that surrounds you. Thank them for the sacrifices they make for you, and spend a little more time listening to them. And you know that little brother who exasperates you endlessly? Someday he’ll be one of your greatest sources of encouragement and wisdom. Go easy on him.

You’re spending a lot of time wondering if this faith of your parents is worth claiming as your own. That’s okay. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. If God is who He says He is, He can withstand the doubts of a teenage girl. Know that the day will come when He’ll be more real to you than anything you’ve ever known. Until that day comes, stop agonizing over your inability to truly believe. He’s working in your heart, and He’ll accomplish His work–in His timing.

One last thing. Your life isn’t going to work out quite the way you think it will, as you sit there scribbling away in your 10th-grade journalism notebook, dreaming of the New York Times. You have very grand hopes of Changing The World, and the good news is that you will accomplish this–though not in the way you’re dreaming right now. You’ll change the sheets of a little boy who has gotten sick in the night, and you’ll make him feel safe and warm in a way no one else can. You’ll stroke the face of your baby daughter in a NICU ward and cover her with prayer. You’ll share your faith with a second-grade boy and watch the light of understanding flip on in his eyes. You’ll sit at the kitchen table with a boy whose confidence has been shattered, and you’ll build him back up. You’ll love a man more completely than you can imagine, and with him you’ll build a home where it’s easy to laugh and safe to speak your mind. Yes, a tiny corner of the world will be forever changed by what you do more surely than anything you could do in a big city newsroom.

And it will take your breath away.

Signed, You in 2007

This post was originally published on March 5, 2007

60 thoughts on “A Letter To Myself in 1987

  1. Cheri says:

    Wow!! You got me bawlin’. I was SURE I’d go back to my 10 year high school reunion (in 1997) driving a Mercedes. Like that even matters. I showed up in a Subaru, with a 18 month old son and pregnant with his precious sister. Life could NOT have been better! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Shane says:

    I wish I could have “been there” for myself at that time. I searched for other mother figures at the time, but no one seemed available or interested. I recently received information on Teen Mother Choices. They are in need of mentors for young ladies. And I’m pretty sure God is saying to me – here’s your way to be there for someone else, like you wanted when you were young and foolish! Thank you for re-posting this article. It seems like it hit home for many of us!

  3. Becky says:

    What a joy to know that God is fulfilling a dream of a sophmore in high school and using your WRITING to touch so many corners of the world. My little corner of Missouri has been touched.

  4. Alyce says:

    That was beautiful! I laughed out loud at the part about your weight – I was exactly the same way. I’m trying to appreciate my appearance more now in the present and not stress about it the way I did as a teenager. That last paragraph made me cry. All moms need to hear that. We need to be reminded that what we do is important; it does change the world. Thanks for sharing such a great post!

  5. Alicia says:

    Beautifully written. You have such a way with words. Thank you for sharing and reminding us how important we are as mothers. It’s not always fun to change the diapers and sheets but it’s the way we show love to our babies and I wouldn’t want anyone else to take my place.

  6. Sue says:

    Shannon, what a fantastic post. You could have been writing to 1987 me!
    I absolutely love your blog and this post is one of my favorites. Thanks.

  7. hogphan says:

    I loved that beautiful young lady you’re writing to and was so very proud of her. But I must admit, I love her more and am even more proud of her now that she is an incredible wife, mother, writer, and friend to me, her mom.

  8. Wendy G. says:

    What a wonderful idea to write a letter to yourself. I may have to try this. Oh, the things I would tell her.
    Just wanted to say that I nominated you for a blog award. I’m sure you have many. Stop by my little korner sometime if you need some crafty inspiration.
    Peace,

  9. Niffer says:

    thanks for that letter, and the tears that came with it. it’s nice to hear that I’m not the only one who has become satisfied with a less than glamorous life of motherhood, etc. Love your blog

  10. Carrie says:

    I love this, especially the last paragraph. You encapsulate motherhood so completely, and we all need to be reminded of how important our job as mom and wife is now and then. Thank you! Hope you’re enjoying your break!

  11. Carrie says:

    I love this, especially the last paragraph. You encapsulate motherhood so completely, and we all need to be reminded of how important our job as mom and wife is now and then. Thank you! Hope you’re enjoying your break!

  12. Krista says:

    Wow! I wish I could have had a letter like this when I was a teenager. I encourage my children to dream, but life is never how you dream it would be, in fact often it turns out so much better.

  13. Amanda says:

    You can add to that list of accomplishments, “you encouraged lots of other moms just like yourself to remember the beauty in their jobs.” Boy, I needed that today!

  14. Erica says:

    This was really sweet; thank you for sharing it. I think a lot of us could use letters to ourselves like this. 🙂 God bless!

  15. Joni says:

    Thanks for a great read! What a wonderfully introspective look at “life” vs. LIFE. You made me take a moment to reflect and give praise for the life I’m living.

  16. LifeatTheCircus says:

    I couldn’t help but think as I read this that while you may not be a writer for the New York Times God is using your gift with words combined with your experiences and passions as a wife, mother, and child of God, to reach and touch countless lives. You are in my book a blogging super star. I’m guessing back in high school you had no idea their could be a whole “written” world where you could reach thousands of people without printed paper. God must’ve been thinking, just you wait Shannon, have I got plans for you!

  17. LifeatTheCircus says:

    I couldn’t help but think as I read this that while you may not be a writer for the New York Times God is using your gift with words combined with your experiences and passions as a wife, mother, and child of God, to reach and touch countless lives. You are in my book a blogging super star. I’m guessing back in high school you had no idea their could be a whole “written” world where you could reach thousands of people without printed paper. God must’ve been thinking, just you wait Shannon, have I got plans for you!

  18. Lana says:

    I’m past tenth grade by four years, but not yet looking back twenty years…
    I’m newly married to my first love, I’m a junior in college, and my husband and I argue about whether or not I’m fat (he thinks I’m perfectly shaped and promises he always will) can’t wait to be pregnant but I’m trying to enjoy life right now…
    So, I guess I’m past a little of this, but still your letter to you in 87 speaks to me in 2004 and in 2008.
    Wonder what I’ll be like in 2024?
    Have lotsa babies and a happy husband (still), I hope 🙂

  19. Gidget says:

    Oh, if only we could’ve really read a letter like this from our older selves when we were younger! That would have saved at least a little heartache.
    Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

  20. Angela says:

    This was just awesome!
    I too wore the electric blue mascara (it supposedly made my blue eyes stand out… but I now realize it was because I looked ridiculous!) You just gotta love the 80’s!

  21. Jackie Sue says:

    i loved this. Just precious. Reminded me of Brad Paisley’s song “Letter To Me” or something like that. Life has such a funny way of being so much better than we knew to hope for. I’m so thankful that God’s plans were way better than mine and so grateful that He gave me the grace to submit to His. Many Blessings.

  22. Mrs. H says:

    Uh, this gave me tears… this fits perfectly with your more recent post of God knowing our future… what seemed “perfect” as a teenager is nowhere near what God has given me now. Even though it hasn’t been as “perfect” as I had once dreamed, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than in God’s plan.

  23. Mrs. H says:

    Uh, this gave me tears… this fits perfectly with your more recent post of God knowing our future… what seemed “perfect” as a teenager is nowhere near what God has given me now. Even though it hasn’t been as “perfect” as I had once dreamed, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than in God’s plan.

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