I wish I could tell you all of the answers. Every question mark you have in your heart, I wish I could answer them all—every silent vulnerability that you harbor and every fear quieted. That’s not how these things work, though. Answers aren’t ever easy.
But this is what I would tell you if you would only ask.
This is what I know for sure.
You will know heartache. Bold, sweeping heartache that will take your breath away. The kind of heartache you wear like a dress you hate or a coat that isn’t warm enough. The kind of heartache that wakes you up at three a.m. and refuses to let you fall back asleep because it demands to be felt. Bone-deep heartache that forces you into a deep, deep tunnel and begs you to not look for the light at the end. It’s going to be a fierce hurt. The worst kind—the kind you can’t get away from, no matter how far you run.
And you will run. You will run far, far, far. To your moms. To your dads. Halfway around the world. Down the block. Across the street. Down a gravel road on a fall day. You will run hard. Out of breath, panting—a marathon behind you. That’s when you’ll get it. You’re still you, even when you stop.
You will fail. And you will fail by such spectacular measures that years later, it will still startle you. Your grace will let you down and you will be left fumbling for your North. Your light will momentarily dim and your eyes will lose their focus. Your faith will rattle. Your teeth will clench. Your embarrassment will sink straight to your heart, and that’s where you will carry it, but it will be a badge of honor. An ‘I survived the fight,’ emblem…a message spread across your chest like a beacon to others. Don’t lose hope, it will call to them. Don’t lose hope.
There will be never-forgets. They say there are storms named after this kind of person. These are the people that you walk away from slowly, wide-eyed, and unsure…but even tornadoes eventually end. Your never-forget will end, too. They will be your barometer, your weather vane. When the wind picks up and the clouds gather, you will remember that you have already learned this lesson. Your faithful never-forget will be your warning wail. You will take cover before you let another take you over.
Sometimes, they just won’t hear you. You will tell them so loudly what you need. You will yell on your hilltop and you will shake them by the shoulders. You will whisper it in their ear in mornings when the sun is barely up and the blinds can’t even hide what you’ve done. And sometimes, they just won’t hear. And my darling girl, it’s just because they don’t care enough to listen. Remember, spend your Sundays with someone who listens.
You will find a tribe. They will be far from what you expect, and you will pick them up like tarnished dimes in a laundry mat that you never expected you’d ever be in. They will cling to you when you want to push. They will fight for you when you forget how. They will bear their teeth to fight your wolves at night…and you will let them. You will feel their arms pressing in on your shoulders and even you—a girl mostly at sea and kind of uprooted—will let them soothe your aches. They will become your lost compass. They will point you North again.
You can’t fix people. You can fix yourself. You can heal your own wounds. You can find your own path. But as hard as you try. As much as you dig. As many times as you ask the big questions. There is just no fixing broken sometimes. And you are too whole to be loved in halves. Move on.
You will feel the ‘not enoughs.’ You will feel like you were born with them. You will know them like an old friend at a coffee shop on Saturday mornings. You will listen to them because you will forget not to. They will consume you some days. They are the not enoughs. Here’s the real truth though, you are enough. Your story is good enough. Your heart is full enough. You have always been smart enough. Your laugh is loud enough. And honey, ‘Pretty enough?’ Well.
Society will tell you that you are not pretty enough. But even if you wake up with a jackhammer in your head and a tequila bottle somewhere close to the toilet that your face is currently resting on? You are still pretty enough. Because we don’t measure our souls with some kind of ‘pretty baseline.’
We measure our souls on tenacity. We measure our souls on how we deal with long Thursday night arguments. We measure our souls based on how open we are to change. To failure. To love. We measure our souls by our convictions, our endurance, our trials, and our spirituality.
Sweet, sweet goodness. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you are not pretty enough. Because if they’re judging you just on ‘pretty?’ Then they’ve lost their way. And listen. You can’t ever show someone else their way.
You will forget. It starts slow. Like your keys are somehow gone in the mornings. Or you misplace an earring. And then one Tuesday morning, you wake up and you’ve forgotten what the grass smelled like in June when you were in high school. Or what the popsicles tasted like out on the driveway that summer you turned ten. Or what your mom smelled like when she hugged you. Huge chunks of you will be lost in the unrelenting chasm of time, and you will be homesick. Homesick for when you were seven and your biggest problem was figuring out how to carry a purse just like your momma.
And you will remember. You will remember lessons. You will remember how the pews in church were hard and Jesus was soft. You will remember how it felt the first time you walked away because you chose to, and you will remember how empowered you felt the first time you said no. You will remember the burning on the small of your back from a hand that reached through to your very essence and shook you awake. Oh, sweet girl, some days, you will drown in those wild memories.
It will be messy. All of it. Your living room. Your bed. Your heart. Your head. Your car. Your desk drawers. Afternoon finger painting. Christmas morning. Dinner party cleanup. All of it will be messy. College late-night cramming. After it snows for the first time in late November, there will be water on the floor from your boots. There will be crunchy things you step on in your daughter’s room, and there will be cobwebs in corners. You will forget hair appointments, you will forget to take your makeup off at night, you will inevitably try bangs (more than once).
But the greatest and best part of all? You will be more radiant than the sun. You will celebrate days with toasts and pretty dresses, and you will celebrate just making it through with pajamas and fuzzy socks. You will learn to walk with your head facing your truth, and you will wake up one day—stretch out—and you will know contentment. You will know grace. You will know love.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rebecca Cooper. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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