When I was 16, I was a wreck. I was lost and insecure but without the awareness that I was either of those things. When I looked at myself I saw an intelligent, talented and imaginative dreamer. I saw a good friend and an articulate communicator.
I didn’t see the truth.
I feel sad when I think about 16-year-old Fabs. I feel sad for how deeply and desperately afraid and lonely I was. I was terrified of everything, overwhelmed by the possibility of being alone, desperate to earn approval and the applause of the world; hungry for significance.
If I could write a letter to my 16-year-old self, here’s how it would go:
Gosh, you must be exhausted. You must be so tired of trying to be all that everyone wants you to be. I know you are worn out from trying to be good enough or cool enough or pretty enough to get that guy’s attention.
I know you think what you feel is love. I know that when you look at him your heart fills up with an obsessive yearning and longing and need, but I’m here to tell you, that’s not love; it’s hunger for someone to love you. Never confuse the two. Nothing belittles a human being and their Creator like trying to use them to make much of you.
I know that real love has to be something different because there’s only One who really loves – and He doesn’t need us at all. Yet, He loves us. His love is fervent and tangible and consuming and passionate, but it is not needy. Aspire to that kind of love. Aspire to count others as more significant and give them love regardless of their love for you.
Fabienne, you don’t have to act tough and pretend you don’t care about what people think. You don’t have to be obsessed with proving yourself. You don’t have to try to be cool all the time. (You’ll learn that coolness is all relative. And the people you want to think your cool are never going to be convinced by your insecure attempts to imitate them.)
Fabienne, love your parents. Be willing to be hurt by people. Avoid the two pendulum swings: don’t lock your heart away, and don’t give it away too freely.
Pursue security: not arrogance, and not boasting, but a secureness in your soul. People are drawn to the reality that you don’t need them to keep breathing and they’re drawn to that because it reminds them of their maker. That kind of confidence is only possible if you have a guaranteed supply of love and affection coming your way for eternity. Without that you’ll always be begging for the scraps of the approval of man.
You don’t know it yet, but that kind of love is yours already. You’re going to be adopted by a guy who is the King of all and you’re going to be taken care of forever. You don’t need to store up affection, like a squirrel stores up acorns for the winter. You’ll always have enough in Him.
Fabienne, all your hunger for love, all your desperation to be significant, to matter, to count, to be seen – all of that hunger is for Him. It’s only going to be satisfied in Him. He is all you want in the deepest places of your soul. And when you behold His glory you will know that.
Love, your future self.