Flashback to sixteen. I had almost forgotten this season of great sorrow that I experienced in my childhood and early teen years. My memory has softened, and I tend to look back and summarize my childhood as a happy one. I was loved, cherished by my parents, befriended by my eight older siblings.
The hardest part of my childhood was losing my siblings, one by one. To college or girlfriends or marriage or moving away… I had forgotten how much this hurt until I reread this journal entry I wrote when I was sixteen years old.
I was the last of us in school, with a couple of brothers in and out of college. The sister ahead of me was dreaming up her wedding for the upcoming year. I remember feeling alone. And hating change. And wanting everything to stay the same forever. I remember crying in my room on many occasions. I didn’t want to lose my family. I didn’t want to grow up. I didn’t want to ever move out. I didn’t want to leave my hometown or my parents. I didn’t have a clue where I would be going, what I would be doing. I had no vision for my future.
I loved God. And I prayed that He would use my life. In my loneliness, I poured out my heart to him. I did this on notebook paper in a 3-ring binder. I would sit on the floor of my bedroom for hours, listening to thunderstorms on my CD player, writing my thoughts and feelings to God.
Sixteen. This was the year before I met my husband, which changed every detail of my life forever. The sixteen-year-old me was standing on the edge of her future, wanting desperately to cling to the comfort of the home she had always known. She was sad and a little lost. But–I see it at the end of the page– she had hope. And how beautifully that hope was fulfilled in the life that she is/I am now living.
I look back on this journal entry (complete with chords because I had actually turned it into a song that I remember every year on the last day of July), and I see the real me. This girl was not a polished writer. Her phrases were awkward. The rhythm of words didn’t yet pulse through her veins. But she was showing up, writing down her innermost thoughts, and making a choice to see through a lens of hope. And even at this young age, she was learning, through the powerful process of journaling, to build a bridge to peace.