You'll turn 16 in a few, short weeks. Don't do that thing you're on the brink of doing. What a big bunch of hype for a whole lot of totally not worth it.
I get you perfectly, some twenty-two years down the road, and you're putting a truckload of unnecessary pressure on yourself. You know that--by the time Mom was your age--she'd been dating Dad for something like three years. She married him at 17. You're feeling frantic and even a little old. It would be funny if it weren't so tragic.
Sixteen is not old. Take it from me: 33 is a pretty good age to marry, and your body will be capable of growing a baby even at 38. I know, I know: Mom is 37 right now, and the thought of her, pregnant, is unfathomable. But she's more of a hottie and a spring chicken than you realize.
Stop thinking about Mom and her timeline. Stop it. Stop it! I understand why you're doing it (She's amazing!), but stop it. You'll never be her: never, ever. (Do let her teach you to sew, though, and cook...and can food.) You're what happened when two people collided: two! You're at least 50% Carl Shafer and, at the end of the day, wholly yourself. Concern yourself with becoming who you are. Allow your life to unfold in its own way, in its own time.
Because here's the thing: you have perfect instincts. You're headed for the right college. Also, the boys in your life worth loving are the very same ones with whom you never consider intimacy. You tell Mom: you love them too much to risk losing them. You're wiser than you know; you'll love them, still, over two decades from now, and you'll know how to find them. Don't try to date the one because--even though the two of you never cross any lines--that unnecessary history will complicate things down the road.
Your memories with your three boy friends will become some of the ones you'll cherish most. Make more of them. Go to your junior prom with Matthew. Spend even more time riding with Jason. Spend even more time swimming with Mark.
Enjoy more fully your family, your girlfriends (especially Carlena, Sonia, Annie), your church youth group, your high school band. You're getting ready to leave Scott County for good; make the most of what time you have left. Spend more time listening to what James Watson and T.L. Lay have to say. Love on Stacey even harder. Go ahead and track down Hoyle Hutson and tell him you're sorry for acting out in his sixth-grade science class because--by the time you actually feel sorry (having tried and failed to teach a bunch of heathens)--he'll be in the ground.
Or don't change a dad-burned thing.
I'm not going to lie to you: you can save yourself a whole heap of trouble, here. But--even if you don't--it'll all be ok enough, in the end. The Lord will go with you wherever you go, and you'll fall in love with Him one way or the other: even though you'll find Him different than how they teach Him in the little, white church. He lives in your heart, and He's more faithful than you can possibly fathom.
I love you.
Your 38-year-old Self
**I wrote this letter a couple years ago but am reposting in response to the prompt “A Letter to My Younger Self” at The High Calling. You can read other offerings and join in the fun by clicking here.