I know because I am her.
I wish I could go back in time for a moment to give this girl a hug. To tell her that she was beautiful, because as I look on this photo right now, I realize that she is. I wish I could tell her that even though it is going to be hard, long wait for answers and validation, it will come. And when it comes, that it won’t even really matter because she’s placed all she is and all she has in her Father’s hands.
I wish I could tell her to throw out those jeans that she was keeping in her closet, just hoping they would one day fit again. Because they’re never going to fit (and that’s okay). I wish I could tell her that even though her body will start to fall apart, her heart won’t. I wish I could tell her to rock those capris because one day, she won’t be able to wear them anymore.
I wish I could tell her that when she writes this, almost a decade later, that she will be several sizes larger. But also if one could measure happiness, that she’d be rich. I wish I could tell her that she is going to be okay.
I also stumbled on this girl tonight. And she made my heart happy. That smile. She has no idea what is coming. No idea about the mean girls who will rob her of the joy illuminating her face. She doesn’t yet know the nights she’ll cry herself to sleep because she’s been put down for her weight. She doesn’t yet know how much her heart will ache when people laugh as they pass her by.
I wish I could visit this girl, just for a moment. I would take her by the hand and tell her she’s beautiful. I would tell her how jealous of her beautiful curly hair I am. I would tell her to stick to her piano lessons because she’ll regret giving up. I would tell her to keep singing with her whole heart. And I would tell her to listen to her mother and write until her wrists ache. I’d tell her to hold on to that joy with everything she’s got.
I wish I could wrap my arms around this little girl like a shield. I wish I could protect her heart from all the painful experiences I know would come. I wish I could make her heart impenetrable, so it wouldn’t hurt so much. But I can’t.
And maybe I don’t want to. Because sometimes having a wide open, vulnerable heart is a good thing. It means it can be wounded badly. But it also means it can be easily filled. Having a wide open heart means its open to anyone who needs it. Like the black girl that no one wanted to play with at recess. Like the boy who had a lisp. Like the girl who hurled insults at her every chance she got.
Sometimes the journey God allows in your life can hurt. Sometimes the pain can be overwhelming. One thing I’ve learned on my journey is that the tongue is as sharp as a sword and words can crush your soul. But the other thing I have learned? It is equally as important. I’ve learned that holding onto those words is like repeatedly swallowing poison, but forgiveness is healing. And for every deep cut painful words can make, God’s love goes even deeper, restoring and bringing peace.
I wish I could go back to these two and give them hope. Because hope is the healing thread that sews my broken heart together. The wounds that these two have suffered have left behind scars. But those scars? They’re beautiful. They tell a powerful story of love, suffering, redemption, and fountains of hope.
The time has come to share my story in bits and pieces, fragments of a life I’ve lived and am still living. And how I’ve been given the gift of sifting through to find beauty in the broken.