A Letter to my 16-year-old Self



You’re a good kid, Jake.

I know what you’re going through. I know how hard it is for you to fake that smile. And honestly, most of the time you don’t even try to fake it — you let your emotions show. I can see the quiet desperation within your eyes. The loneliness. The questions. The pain. The doubt. The crying. The depression. I see it. I know what it’s like. I know what your’e going through.

I know that your life seems like a perpetual overcast — a life of grey. The clouds never seem to fade away, and the rain never seems to come. You sit in your room, crying and praying for God to free you from the captivity of your own mind. You drown your thoughts with video games and Netflix, hoping to find a small sense of happiness in a world that is not yours. You often find yourself watching porn on Friday and Saturday nights. Nobody knows, of course. You couldn’t tell anyone that, could you? The embarrassment that would follow would be too much to bear. I mean, it’s not like anyone else struggles with it, right? The porn addiction coupled with the weight of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and family issues makes for quite a sad life. It feels as if shame and hopelessness have their hands around your neck, slowly but surely squeezing the remaining life out of you. I get it. I’ve been there.

But Jake, listen to me. I know you probably won’t, considering your history with taking other peoples’ advice. But please listen.

For starters, let me assure you that life will get better. In many ways, it will get worse. But trust me. It will get better.

Mom and dad get a divorce. I know you’ve seen the problems they’ve been having for the past few years, so it won’t surprise you too much. It’s okay to cry about it. You still don’t know why they got a divorce, and you may never know. But please do not base your idea of marriage and relationships off of mom and dad. Don’t lose heart. You’re still single, but I’m sure there is a girl out there for you.

Stop watching porn, dude. Like, seriously. It is destroying you. Life was not meant to be spent alone, and neither was sex. It’s like going to Disney World by yourself; it’s not as fun, you have no one to share the memories with, and honestly it’s just weird. (Guilt and shame, of course, don’t accompany Disney World, but you get the point).

Spend more time with grandpa. I know you’ve heard all his war stories a thousand times and can recite every one of them, but he’s not doing too good these days. Go have lunch with him more often. I don’t know how many days he has left.

Talk to that girl in your science class. I know you think she’s way out of your league. But trust me — she’s not. You may not believe this, but in a few years, you’ll have spent three months in another country, jumped out of a plane, gone caving (twice), and been on a few other adventures. Those preppy athletes got nothing on you.

Spend time with God. I know you already do, but spend more. Go out into the woods or to a park or to Line Creek. Put your phone on airplane mode, even though the only person likely to text you is mom. Bring your Bible, a notebook, a pen, headphones, and maybe a book. Walk and talk with God, and don’t forget to let Him talk as well. A conversation goes both ways. Don’t be surprised when the tears start rolling and you don’t know why. That’s one of God’s ways of saying that He is with you and loves you. You’ll experience that a lot in the coming years. Cherish it.

Your parents love you. They may not understand what your’e going through, but they love you.

Work out a little more. The video games will just make your situation even worse. Get rid of the PlayStation and get a gym membership.

Have faith. I know it feels as if God forgot all about you, or that maybe He didn’t care in the first place. But trust me, Jake. God is up to something. The life you are living right now is not a waste, even though you often feel worthless and confused. God can and will use the attacks of the enemy for good. Read the story of Joseph in Genesis. Have hope. This is not the end. You are killing lions right now so that one day you can kill Goliath.

That trip to Mexico you are going on soon? It’s gonna change your life. You won’t realize it for a few years, but that trip will play a huge role in the restoration of your soul. I don’t want to spoil it; you’ve got to go on that journey yourself. But in the coming days (and years) when you feel lonely, left out, and hopeless, remember this: God is working.

I hate to say it, but you still haven’t had your first kiss. It’s kinda funny honestly. I guess you just don’t have the best luck with girls. You’ll meet a few girls in the next few years that’ll restore your hope for a relationship. I don’t know yet what happens, though. In the words of Alan Jackson, “don’t be falling in love as she’s walking away.” Take some chances. Life is more fun that way.

Your coming years will be guided by both adventure and boredom, joy and grief, clarity and confusion, and faith and doubt. Keep your head up. Life is a battle, but you know that already. Be brave. You’re a freaking warrior.

I’ll see you in a few years. I’m praying for you, man.





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