My breath was taken away and tears came to my eyes. Not gonna lie, they even rolled down my cheeks.
A friend of mine shared a photo with me. She’d found it in an old yearbook of her mom’s.
Me. Age fifteen. The one school picture that never made it to a frame on the top of the piano with the other pictures of me and my sisters. I had totally forgotten about this particular photograph. I doubt there are prints of it anywhere, except of course the old yearbook.
And honestly, over the years I had forgotten being this girl in the picture.
I remember why I didn’t smile. I remember exactly why I didn’t smile. My dad was very ill. He’d just been diagnosed with leukemia and his prognosis was dismal. Life was sad.
And then there was the whole poor self image dealio raging away, too. I was a self-conscious, introverted, socially awkward mess.
Bottom line….I was sad. A lot of the time.
The two years after this picture was captured would be filled with difficult days, watching as my father was losing his life. Hoping, praying, watching, weeping. Just hanging on. And trying to deal with all the typical stress of adolescence as well as I could.
Not only was I sad, I was just plain angry a lot of the time.
On the day this photo was shared with me, it really shook me to the core. Transported me back to a time in my life that I really don’t ever want to re-visit. I cried. But just briefly.
The tears were brief because a half century has passed since that picture was taken. That “time in my life” was just a pitiful chapter in a story that would get so much better as the years passed. There would be beautiful chapters that I wouldn’t trade for anything. No more pitiful chapters? Of course there were more. It takes a variety of chapters to weave the tapestry of our lives. We all have “chapters”. Stories aren’t complete without a variety of chapters. It’s good. It’s all good. Not easy, but certainly good.
Have you heard the song “Dear Younger Me”? It’s been around for a bit and it always causes me to think about what I would tell the little girl in the above picture. Here are some of the lyrics:
“Dear younger me where do I start? If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far then you could be one step ahead of all the painful memories still running thru my head. I wonder how much different things would be… Dear younger me”
What would you want to say to younger you?
I look at the girl in the picture and I just want to give her a hug, tell her she’s going to be okay, she’s loved, she’s beautiful. Because that little girl in the picture didn’t believe any of those three things.
When you post a picture on Facebook the question pops up: “Who were you with?” and you can tag the person who was with you. I can tell you who I’d tag in this old photo if I could. Without a doubt. Jesus. He was most definitely with me, carrying me forward to a better place, a new chapter.
Jesus is the best part of my story. The thread that held the tapestry together when I was pretty sure it would unravel completely.
I might have wanted to write my story differently. You, too? But sixty-five years later I can look back and see that the Author of our stories knows how it ends even as he was writing the beginning. We can trust Him with our story.
Perfectly imperfect. Beautifully broken. Held close. Eternally loved.