Have you ever found it easier to feel bad or sad for someone else’s situation than your own? When we are in a tough spot, we tend to justify, make excuses for people who’ve wronged us, or try to make our problem sound “not so bad.” And yet, if someone else told us about the same, terrible thing going on in their life, we would have sincere empathy and tell them how awful it is and that it should have never happened, etc.
For me, I think it was just hard to accept and acknowledge the reality of some difficult things that happened in my life in an honest way. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could do this and mean it. Letting myself have some grace and compassion for the hurting teenage girl that I was helped me to heal a lot. Maybe doing something similar would help you to heal in some ways, too.
When I finally got to the healthy point of acknowledging my pain and giving myself grace, I wrote a letter to that girl I had such a hard time forgiving: my teenage self.
Here’s what it sounded like:
You are a loved and cherished child; your parents love you for who you are, despite your sassiness and tendency to get into trouble. They love you even though you cut your dad’s brand new dress pants and that other kid’s hair in class when you were little. You are a typical, annoying little sister, but, nonetheless, to an older brother of character who would have never wanted to see you hurt or taken advantage of. I am sorry that you couldn’t see that. I am sorry that you thought you had to be perfect. I am sorry that you thought your standing with God was based upon works, not on a relationship with Him. I am sorry that you thought you had to impress your family and that they wouldn’t want to hear your true feelings.
Letting myself have some grace and compassion on the hurting teenage girl that I was helped me to heal a lot.
I am sorry that as you grew up you allowed yourself to be swayed by others who were also confused about who they were. I am sorry that you were insecure and thought that doing bad things would make you cool. I am sorry that you didn’t respect yourself enough to know you were worth more and to know better than to listen when that boy said that you were really special and worth it. If he had really meant that, then he would not have taken advantage of you. I am sorry that happened; it was not your fault. He was manipulative and that is not okay.
I am sorry that you thought this was normal and okay and expected of a teenage girl dealing with relationships. I am sorry you had such a deep void of a darkness and confusion within your soul. I am sorry that you kept turning to boys and substances as you desperately sought to fill that void. I am sorry for the scars and irreparable damage that was done to your body and spirit at the time. I am sorry that there was once a time that things were so dark, you thought it would be better if you weren’t here. I am sorry for all of the times you felt alone, even though there were plenty of people around who loved you and wanted to be there for you. I am sorry that you almost got your wish when you just wanted the pain to end. I am grateful that you failed in your attempt. I am grateful to God for allowing you to be here when you really shouldn’t be.
I am proud of you for finally accepting help. I am proud of you for doing the hard work and taking the long road to change in order to be the person you were made to be. I am proud of you for getting healthy. I am proud of you for being patient with the long process.
I am sorry for all of the times you felt alone, even though there were plenty of people around who loved you and wanted to be there for you.
This letter is made up of so many lessons I learned through my healing process—lessons of grace.
I am grateful for the relationships I have now, for restoration, and for redemption. I am proud to say I am free from the bondages that used to weigh me down and I have hope for a bright future, because I believe in me, because I have found truth. The truth has set me free.
Here are the true things I wish I had believed sooner:
You were made exactly how you are supposed to be
You are loved unconditionally
You are 100% worth it and beautiful exactly as you are
You are smart
Stop trying to be like everyone else
Relationships are more important
You are capable of great things
Any person and any situation can be redeemed
There is always grace, and it’s never too late to start over
Living within these truths has helped me see that my life has great value and that every day can be meaningful. I would have never found that if I had not forgiven myself. Maybe you would benefit from something similar; don’t withhold forgiveness for yourself.
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