A Letter To My Eleven Year Old Self

Dear eleven year old Hannah, I saw you in pictures today and oh, how I missed you, in glasses that weren't quite 'hip' yet; in teeth too bucky for your face; in sweaters which seemed so stylish back in the day; in your bookworm, nerdy glory.

Grade six was the year you started writing in this weird capital lowercase mix, which is now distinctive to you. I remember you writing out test reviews, over and over again, trying to master the unique way you wanted to write. This may have also been the time period where you signed your name, "Hannah <3 xo" on. every. single. document. But I don't think that's essential to dwell on.

I'm on a train writing this to you. I'm not even sure you know what GO Trains are, but I can promise you, you're going to get REAL familiar with them. And beyond the GO train situation, there is so much more you don't know quite yet: the boy a few rows over is going to marry your cousin, and those best friends you swear you'll keep forever? You just end up creeping them on Facebook. You get contacts, but go back to glasses, and you wear eight rings on a constant basis, one of which happens to be wedged in your nose.

I feel like I should start off by saying: you're going to have a lot of fun when you grow up. There is travel, ballroom dance lessons, putting cinnamon in spaghetti, writing, coffee with FLAVOURED cream (it's a game changer), and smiling. You're going to dance around a lot and you're going to be full of an energy and exuberance no one quite understands - but you'll just tell everyone they used to put Coca-Cola in your bottle and they'll understand. You're going to be more dramatic than you already are, a feat we didn't know was possible. You're going to have a unique, distinctive, loud, guffawing kind of laugh - it'll put some people on edge, but most will just laugh with you. You will be awkward always, but somehow, it'll be okay.

I want to be honest and say: some of the next ten years are really, really hard. You're not always your best self. You're really mean sometimes. You don't always listen when people need you. You hurt people and you burn bridges you maybe should've have burned. Your heart is going to be kicked around and bruised a little. That dad you're not talking to right now? He's going to hurt you a little bit more, and you're not going to be sure if you'll be able to make it all the way through. There's stuff you can't even imagine, and you'll try to muddy through, or push people away, or run away, or do it all on your own.

But your mom is this pillar of strength and just like Jesus, she will not let you fall. She will stick you smack dab in the middle of a community when you just want to be alone. She will tell you to write it out, because she knows you need to deal with your feelings in a particular manner. She will demonstrate love by fighting for you, every day. And just like you, she's making it up as she goes, thinking, "One more step. Just take the next step."

Also, your mom finds love again. I know this letter can't actually go back in time, but if it could, I would say: be kind to him. I know you don't want to be loved quite yet, but he does the unimaginable and sticks around, even after you've thrown all your prickly tricks at him. And even better, he makes your mom so happy.

You're going to grow out of being the angel in the Christmas pageants, but you don't grow out of Calvary. I know you hate having church twice on Sundays but by the time you're 21, you actually start to miss those moments of community. You're going to raise your hands when you worship. You're not yet an author, you're not even writing for a living - you're going to help people. I'm not sure what it looks like yet, but we'll find out. You're going to fall in love, not the kind you've imagined based off of books you've read and movies you've watched: but the real kind. It's hard and tough. The kind of love that doesn't always want you back. The kind of love that isn't always convenient. The kind that can teach you so much about yourself. The kind that's even more beautiful than you imagined.

You're going to love Jesus, in an up close, deep, personal way. You're going to have a relationship with Him. You always believe & you get mad sometimes, because the world can be a stony place. But He's got angels surrounding you in their wings - you are going to experience Jesus in some awesome ways. I think Mom introduces you to Jeremiah 29:11-13 this year. You're going to cling to that verse the way Meghan used to cling to Boppy.

Your heart will be rocky in some places, but it will always be soft towards children. You haven't even started regularly babysitting yet - wait until you babysit for Derek & Renee and Steve & Thea. They'll feel like super cool older siblings and their kids will make you laugh, fill your heart with more joy than you know to do with, and possibly save you.

There are more words to write, grander plans to spill to you, a bigger adventure for you to journey on. There is more world to explore, more life to fall in love with, so I don't need to give away all the good stuff (and the stuff which will make you stronger).

But you make it. I'm pretty sure you're going to forget that. I know you will. But one step at a time. You're going to make it. Your grasp on forever is so limited right now, and you have such a wild idea of who you're supposed to be when you're 21. To answer any possible major questions: no, you don't star in the film adaptation of your book. No, you don't even write the book at all - you're doing really cool stuff at university you didn't even know existed. No, you're not dating or engaged or married. But you make it through, adapting and changing, using funny sayings and odd catchphrases. You make it and you're really happy and you have a wild, adventurous life, with more deep love than your eleven year old heart and mind can fathom.

So go live it out, my dear. You may never believe this (you're 21 and you still don't believe it): but you are going to do great things. Beyond this 11 year old life, perhaps beyond this 21 year old life.

I love you.

Hannah