it's getting so much clearer

To One of The Bravest Girls I Know,

How do I start this letter? It's so much easier to write letters to my husband, my family, and our friends. Words are so powerful, but as you well know, you're not very good at believing them when they are directed towards you.

I think that is the first thing to remember. The words you say to others are words that you also need to say to yourself.

It's not that you're more special than another. Or better than anyone else. But you do need to love yourself in order to love others. (I don't say this to be harsh but just to remind you that every person in the world is worthy of love.)

Remember how you felt at church Sunday morning? Truth poured from the pastor's lips and pierced your heart - reminding you (and me) that life is not about the things that so many say it is. Life's about loving others well, building lasting and meaningful relationships with others, and living in such a way that you always point back to the cross.

There are times when do you do this. But as you well know, there are plenty of other times when you don't do this. I think that the reason you (and I) struggle with this is simple: we don't love ourselves enough.

It's a hard thing to balance. How do you love yourself without lifting yourself up above God, above the calling placed on your life? How do you take care of yourself without allowing your life to become solely about you? How do you live your life for others without completely forgetting to take care of yourself as well?

My suggestion is to start with the cross and to remember just how loved you are by a God who willingly went to the cross and died for you. His death was never in vain. Please also remember that. It was done so that you would begin to live life in a way that spoke to others. And that way should also speak to you on a daily basis.

Also remember that God loves you for the person you are. He made you, knitting you together in your mother's womb. The things you don't like about yourself - your amniotic band syndrome for one - are things He created and that set you apart from others. Enjoy those things. Capitalize on those things. Love those things.

While you are remembering the things God loves you for, also remember that everything He has given you is a gift. Nothing belongs to you; it all belongs to Him. I know letting go of control is terrifying, but I truly believe that your life will become more of what it needs to be as you let go or what your expectations are.

God has given you talent, and that talent needs to be used. Don't stop writing - ever. It doesn't matter how many people read or don't read. What matters is that you never give up. When the words won't come, sit at the computer - fingers poised above the keyboard - and wait. The words will always come. And once they do, love them and put them out for the world to read. Yes, you have to be careful with how much you share, but share you must as that is something you were born to do.

You've been through so much in your now twenty-six years of life - sometimes with no one else there to hold your hands and sometimes with a community of people to build you up and wrap their arms around you. And you've always come through.

Life hasn't been what you expected. But that's where all of the beauty comes from as you're living the life God designed for you - not a life that He designed for someone else and then plugged you into when it didn't work out for that someone else. This life is the one you are meant for. Please enjoy it and love it.

And please stop comparing yourself to others. There are so many things you have seen and survived that might have been the end for someone else. But there are also other things that might have been the end for you that others survived.

You are where you are for a very specific reason and purpose. I know you want to understand why and you want to when things are going to "get better," but it is time to let go and to simply live your life and love yourself so that you in turn can love others and show others how to love themselves.

Today is Valentine's Day 2012, and I want you to take a deep breath and let these words sink in. Not necessarily the words I've written to you but the words God has placed in your heart - the words that speak of His truth, His love of you, and His hopes for you. Valentine's Day is about love - not just the romantic kind but all kinds. And today you need to realize how loved you are by God.

Let the breath out, then go look at yourself in the mirror.

You are beautiful. You are wonderfully made. You are a light in a world that is often too dark. You are filled with hope. You are brave. And even though it often seems like things will never improve, they will, and you will survive just as you always have.

Now I want you to take in another deep breath and close your eyes. Think of what you want from this life. Say a prayer that God would continue to guide you. Imagine the faces of the people who you can help, the people you can tell your story too. As you let out this deep breath, open your eyes and start moving.

This is the time for you to live your life out for God and in the process learn how to love yourself the way He first loved you.

The Girl In The Mirror

(title from "today was a fairytale" by taylor swift)

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