Wednesday, February 16, 2011

a letter to juliet

She’s a girl who’s always moving: it’s what makes her pauses so profound. When you’re walking beside her, and you notice she’s taken a beat to process what’s around her, you know the next phrase out of her mouth will be the one that changes the tempo.

The day was beautiful. Large puddles on the ground reflected the sunshine through the naked trees, a painting of the remains of winter and the promises of spring. She, sixth grader Juliet, was bouncing along beside me, her blue eyes sparkling like the water on the ground until she stomped and sent the ripples running for dry grass.

She stopped for a moment as we walked along the trail and looked up at me. She complains about being too tall, but she’s still not able to look me straight in the eyes without lifting her chin. “If you know why, can’t you just tell me?”

She’d been talking about the way they make her feel. The populars. The ones that she’s not envious of and would never idolize, but the ones that leave her tongue-tied and guarded. The ones that always leave her feeling like an idiot if she stands there, and a loser if she speaks.

So what? I asked. So what if they think you’re an idiot? What’s the worse thing they could possibly think about you, and what’s the worst thing that could come of them thinking it?

She blinked. “I don’t know. I just don’t want them to think I’m stupid.”

So? If they think you’re stupid, what happens then? Why does it matter what they say?

She stood still. “I don’t know.”

Do you think if you knew why their opinions matter so much, you could find a way to feel free?

She kept walking but glanced up at me again. It’s what she wants. To feel free. To know peace. As soon as the word came out, we both recognized the chains wrapping her up, messing with her mind, leaving her frustrated, intimidated, tongue-tied, insecure.

She pulled at her hair until the right words finally came out. “I hate feeling like this.” She stepped around one last area of mud and squinted up at the sky. The sun fell slowly through the trees and cast shadows on my car in the corner of the lot. Her hand caught on the car door, and she hesitated before climbing inside.

“What would you do?” On top of the dashboard, pinks and oranges swirled together and stretched across a sky which seemed to go on forever. At the end of the road, she shut my car door and said good night. My heart instantly started speaking the prayers my mind longed for as her pony-tailed head followed the pinks and oranges straight into the dark.

Dear Juliet,

Don’t you ever for a second doubt your worth. Not for one second. Not because you couldn’t think of anything to say when one of your populars asked you a question. Not because you’re thinking there’s a good chance that they’re right: you really are an idiot.

What they say or think about you does not determine your identity. The more you treat these people as a mirror which reflects who you are, the more fragile you become. Your entire personhood is left for them to decide. Doesn't that explain why you're feeling so insecure right now? But don’t run from people and start digging into your soul to try to find yourself. It’s tempting, but going on an Eat, Pray, Love soul-search will only leave you empty. And possibly 20 pounds heavier.

So, here’s the deal: it doesn’t matter so much who you are, but Whose you are.

Really let the next words soak in.

Ezekiel 16:6 says that the Lord “passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, [He] said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ [He] said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’” We’re a mess on our own. I mean, we are literally wallowing in our own blood. What an awful image. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. On your own, you’re a terrible person. A sinful, selfish person following the course of this world. Don’t get offended. I’m the same way.

[But God], being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, [even when] we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:4-5, 7)

Ephesians 1:3-10 says that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. In love He predestined us for adoption as [daughters] through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.

There’s your identity. Right there. Did you catch it? “In Him.” Not through others’ approval. Not within yourself. In Jesus Christ.
You're so loved, amiga. Personally. Intimately. Jeremiah 31:3 says that the God of the world loves you “with an everlasting love.” In Zechariah 2:8, He calls you the “apple of His eye.” (Zechariah 2:8)

Let those glorious truths sink in. It's not an exaggeration. I'm not trying to make you feel better. This is real. You may not be the most popular person on your campus, but what does it matter when Psalm 45:11 says that the most powerful, wonderful Being to ever live “desires your beauty.” He desires your beauty. Doesn’t that make you the happiest girl alive?

Last thing. You asked what you should do to find freedom from the insecurities that are holding you captive. In other words, here's how to survive sixth grade:
  • Hope in God. (1 Peter 3:5) CRY out to Him. Spend all of your free time on your face if that’s what it takes. Find out who He is. What He’s like. What He’s up to. Praise Him when He reveals something awesome. Write out your worries and fears and thoughts and hopes and dreams in prayers and tell the God of the universe that you don’t know what to do with them. Trust that He does. And know that He hears you. It’s cool to have your prayers written down in a notebook, so that you can see the incredible work He’s doing in you. Guess what….In a few years, you will look back and be overwhelmed by how your God set you free from these insecurities that seem bigger than life right now. He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it. Believe it, girlfriend. And trust me. You’ll be surprised the joy that comes when you’re not focused on yourself, but rather, the One who put the stars in their place and still considers your feelings.
  • Memorize verses to meditate on when you’re doubting who you are and worried about what others think. As soon as those thoughts start to creep in, speak the truth to yourself and know that you are adored by The Truth.
  • Study the Bible. Pursue wisdom. I realize you’re now picturing yourself with gray hair, but just stop. “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)
There’s so much more I want to share with you, but this is a lot already. I love you, Juliet. More importantly, the Savior of the world is crazy about you. Never forget that.


ADDENDUM handmade said...

So young, and yet, so wise. :) This is the same lesson God was teaching me all last semester. Yes, it took that long. But my problem was not listening to the "bad" things people said, but more of the "good" ones. People have defined me certain ways for as long as I can remember, and I made that who I was. I had been letting my strengths determine my identity, instead of asking the Lord who he sees me as and wants me to be. It's painful, but I've been learning to be content in my weaknesses. And I've been rewarded with peace as I've never known before. Thank you for reminding me of this!

Talmid said...

I am so blessed by the words the SAVIOR prompted you to impart. Thank you.

<3 Juliet

Anonymous said...


I don't know you. I'm even not remember how I stumbled across your blog. I'm conviced that it was more than fate.

For three weeks past, I've been planning-down to the minute last detail-my suicide. I have been verbaly and physically abused, and feel always worthless. But this gave hope.

I have purchased a Bible and am reading it. Still, I'm not ready to announce belief in all you have said, but it still has given me hope.

I'm grateful that you would have written this. Blessings many follow you for speaking.


Katie said...

L'Nyah - if you see this, please please email me asap: sosayitsomehow[at]yahoo[dot]com. I can't even begin to imagine what you've been feeling, but no matter how it seems now or has seemed to you in the past - you are adored by the One who created you. So loved that your Creator sent His only son to set you free from feeling worthless. In Jesus, you'll find life. True, meaningful life. Ask Him to prove that to you. Ask Him to reveal His character through the Bible. Keep reading! In His presence alone there is fullness of joy. I'm praying so hard that you'll know without a shadow of a doubt that He is enough. I love you, sweetheart. Jesus, please give L'Nyah Your hope and peace and purpose - let her know You are near.

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