Tuesday, October 1, 2013

letter from the awkward years

The other day I was looking at Marilee Allred’s “The Awkward Years Project,” where she photographed people holding pictures of their old, awkward school photos. The project was supposed to illustrate that people do indeed survive junior high and life gets better.

When I saw this project I immediately thought of the photo currently sitting on Daniel’s desk. It’s my 8th grade school photo, and it was taken the day after I got a perm. It is the epitome of awkward – all frizz, acne and braces.

I gave it to him as a joke, complete with a pink rhinestone frame, but he thought it was the best thing ever and displays it proudly. Ladies, you hang on to men who love and wholeheartedly embrace you when you’re awkward. 

But, I think of how much I’ve changed since that moment. Physically, I got rid of my braces a year later and eventually figured out how to tame the frizz monster. But – who am I kidding? – I still fight acne breakouts.

Intellectually, I got a high school diploma and then a college degree. I’ve traveled all over the United States and to South Africa and Jamaica and got to experience new cultures.

Spiritually, I am slowly coming to the understanding that I am not in control – though I still forget that a time or two. I’ve loosened my grip on my ideas of perfectionism and expectations for myself, but it’s still hard to let go.

So, maybe I need to take some advice from high school me. Here’s a love letter I wrote to myself from God during a Disciple Now weekend. My youth pastor mailed it to me a year later, and I found it again the other night. Maybe it will bless you as much as it blessed me.

Dear Jenny,

I just wanted you to know that I am enthralled by your beauty, and I am working in you to make you even more beautiful inside and out. I just want you all to Myself! I created you just as you are with that extraordinary brown hair and those blue-green eyes that are one of a kind. I even created those desires for perfection and the love of competition that I find so unique and beautiful. I know that you mess up on occasion, but I just love you so much anyway and if you just trust in Me, I can destroy any of those sins that hinder you from drawing close to Me. Jenny Caroline, you are a masterpiece! Don’t ever forget it, and don’t ever sell yourself short. “For I am living among you, I am mighty save, I will take delight in you with gladness. With My love I will calm all your fears. I will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zeph 3:17)


P.S. I have amazing plans made just for you!!

There it is exactly, down to the very last exclamation point. {Okay, okay, maybe I took out an unneeded comma, but I am still a perfectionist when it comes to editing.}

Though I no longer feel like I’m in my awkward stage, I know I could still borrow some of that awkward-stage attitude for those days when I feel not beautiful, not worthy, not purposeful.

 Anyone else willing to own their awkward years?


  1. This is awesome! I totally have a super awkward picture from 10th grade that I share freely and laugh about with people. I should blow it up and frame it for my husband!

    1. Sounds like a perfect Christmas gift to me!