Hey Middle School Mary,
It’s me — Twenty-Something Mary. I hope you can tear your eyes away from instant messenger long enough to give my letter a read. I have some pretty heavy insight and wisdom to give to you, so go ahead — put up your away message (the one with the I’m-more-mysterious-and-deep-than-even-I-can-understand song lyrics will do) and absorb.
First things first — AIM. I know this is hard to believe, but it will become superfluous pretty soon. And someday you won’t even have to go find your 30 lb dictionary to look up “superfluous” — you can just Google it, or ask Siri. (I know this probably seems overwhelming, but stick with me.)
I know how much you value your CDs — most especially the lyric booklets. I’m sorry to tell you that these, too, will be a thing of the past. So don’t put so much time in alphabetizing your vast collection.
Hang on to your slap bracelets, because they will still be in style….NOT. You probably should have stopped wearing them a few years ago. Oh and “not” is out too. Just FYI.
Your secret journals where you chronicle the ups and downs of middle school in beautifully melancholic poetry, unfortunately, never get published. Still not sure why. We may never know.
Keep persevering because there will, in fact, end up being about 365 books in the Kids’ Left Behind series. You’ll eventually make it through, but if you’re curious as to how it ends, just, you know….read Revelation.
Your aussie friend Peter Furler, I’m sorry to say, leaves Newsboys, and — get this — some guy from DC Talk takes his place. And they still have the nerve to call themselves Newsboys. Hang onto your copy of “Steppin’ Up to the Microphone” — it’ll most definitely be worth something someday.
Take a deep breath, because, contrary to the majority of your M.A.S.H. results, you will NOT end up living in a house made entirely of straw. You won’t marry Orlando Bloom, either, but I’m thinking you’re smart enough to figure that one out on your own.
Don’t stress out too much about how you rank your friends on MySpace, or the fact that you’re only allowed to have a maximum of 8 profile pictures at any given time. The reason you shouldn’t stress is, well..no one’s looking at your MySpace page in 2016. Actually, nobody probably ever looked at it. Sorry.
I know it’s hard to believe at 13, but you WILL get married someday. However, many of your checkboxes on your “My Perfect Man” list won’t get checked. Don’t be discouraged, though. The fact is, many of your preferences change. So instead of hoping for a man with Lance Bass’s hair and J.J. Reddick’s jump shot, you’ll eventually start looking for…you know…things that actually matter. (But don’t worry, in addition to your future hubz being a man of integrity, a great provider, and a follower of Christ, he’s also a total hunk!)
Now on a more serious note…I know you, Middle School Mary, because – well – I AM you. And I know how much you want to be accepted and chosen. I know how often you hide behind sarcasm and wordiness. I know how much you seek others’ approval and that you do this by trying, trying, trying to out-perform everyone in everything.
I know how crushed you feel every time a thoughtless, careless boy says something negative about your appearance. I know how you pretend not to care when other girls say hurtful things to you. I know how much you beat yourself up over mistakes you make. And, more importantly, I know how you sometimes ignore the needs of others in an attempt to feel accepted by those who supposedly matter more.
I know these things because I am you. And I just want to tell you that the things that seem so important, so earth-shattering right now…they’re just not. There will always be someone who looks at you like you’ve got a third eyeball in the center of your forehead. There will always be someone who disagrees or disapproves of your opinions and perspectives. And there will always be someone who can out-perform you at, well, life.
And if you continue to find your sufficiency and self-worth in the perceptions of others, then you will always, always be left hungry for affection and acceptance.
As you’re wandering through the strange, uncomfortable, and slightly awkward years ahead, please remember that what matters most in this world is not you. You are not the center of the universe and neither is that guy you have a crush on our those girls that you want to be friends with.
What matters most isn’t what you’ll be “when you grow up,” who you’ll marry, where you’ll live, or how much money you’ll make.
What does matter, you ask? I think you know — that you’ve always known. You’ll try to resist it in various ways in the years to come, but true contentment will only come when you acknowledge and embrace the reason for which you were made.
I won’t lie to you — Twenty-Something Mary hasn’t quite perfected this concept. Far from it actually. But I’ve got a few extra years on you and thus far, life has taught me that I was made not to live for myself, but rather for the One who made me.
You’ll be most fulfilled not when you’re agonizing over your own personal happiness, but when you love God and love people. Period.
The world is far bigger than you know and full of people far more interesting than you. And if life was about you, then those might be troubling thoughts. But, Middle-School Mary, you were created to draw attention to Someone Else rather than yourself.
And you’ll never be more you than when you’re giving everything you are to Him.