Dear 13-year-old Leah,
Dear love-child of awkwardness and nativeness,
Shalom to you, beautiful.
This is a big year for you. You are starting high school. Even bigger, you moved half a world away. From the humid air and dirty streets of India, you have been dragged to the hippie-and-drug infested city of Portland. You will learn to fall in love with this city, but that will come later.
I know you’re confused, but you’re an adapter. You are jello that has yet to set. You will find your mold.
This letter won’t contain any reflections on regrets, no. That’s because you are strong (even though you will not realize this till a few years later).
I’m writing this letter to let you know that I am proud of you.
You have shaped this (nearly) 20-year-old in ways that won’t cross your imagination.
20-year-old me is thankful for the choices and decisions of 13-year-old me.
Because you were forced to enter a space of uncertainty, of fear, of peer pressure, of doubt, you had to take care of yourself.
And I thank the Lord that you chose love for yourself. You chose self-care. You chose beauty. You chose adventure. You chose risk. You chose failing. You chose trying.
You chose to send in that haiku you wrote to your high school literary magazine’s “Hyper Haiku” contest.
(You will win this contest, much to your surprise considering you didn’t know what a haiku was before the contest. And that haiku will propel you to one day be the editor-in-cheif of this magazine, then be an editor of the HS newspaper, which will thrust you into the world of Journalism. But for now, worry about figuring out this whole 5-7-5 syllable thing out.)
You chose to love your new youth group (or “group of idiots” as you will eventually call them). This group of people will help you redefine community and teach you to first love, then hate evangelical christianity. The lessons you learn from this group of idiots will frustrate you and propel you to love Jesus. But these people will be your family. At 20, it gets harder. But there is much beauty you will unearth. Stick by them.
You chose to fight with you parents. To be honest, you still have a weird relationship with them at age 20. It might take us a couple more years to figure this battle out. But I have faith we’ll figure this thing out.
Oh love, you are going to find adjusting hard. But don’t lose hope! It will get better, I can promise you that.
Because of your courage and your ability to choose love, self-care, and adventure amidst loneliness and misplacement, you have helped this still-confused 20-year-old to become the person we were meant to be.
You are brave.
You are beautiful.
You are enough.
With some much love,
You, 6 years later (and still as awkward, if not more).