Dear little 17-year-old Anna Pie,
It is I...well, you...from a decade hence. Hi. How are you? Actually I know how you are. You're freaked out and lonely. You're settling into a totally new life at a college with more people at it than your town, with a strange roommate, no car, no friends and no mama. Deep breaths, little girl. This is all "part of the journey", to sound cliche, though I know right now it kinda mostly sucks. Rest assured, you'll get the chance to move across the bathroom to an Elle Woods genius of a sweet blondie roommate and some of the best friends of your life are out your dorm room door, to the left, way down at the end of the hall with the hair straighteners and brightly colored comforters. They hale from a land of cooler temperatures and something called snow. Too bad you're too shy right now to go meet them. But you will, in time.
Oh, that cute reddish head guy you've noticed lately running one of the cameras in chapel...you're gonna marry him. Before you've even graduated from this place. So there's that. No biggee. You won't actually get to meet him face to face until the beginning of next school year, when you have found the aforementioned friends and such, so carry on and how about have a misadventure with some short, dangerous, complicated young man in the meantime, mmk?
I have good news for you. You have learned to trust your gut and act on it. You are no longer quite as much of a pushover, though sometimes kind of a little bit, yeah, maybe. You know how to speak your mind and stand up for what you believe. You can hold your own in an argument and can be downright feisty on occasion. And here's the kicker...sometimes you talk too much. I know, right?! Hard to believe. It's like all the quiet from age 0 to 17 was stored up for later and now sometimes that cute reddish hair camera boy from chapel gives you a knowing look that says "omg, shush." (Except he is a manly man and doesn't say things like "omg". Also the reddish hair is all gone so don't get overly attached to it.) Unfortunately, you are still scared to talk to strangers on the phone. Not sure what to do about that one... Oh but hey! You can swallow pills now!
Ok sweetie, let's talk about God. And church. And this thing called faith and this somebody called Jesus. I know right now you are "church shopping", which for your car-less self means getting a ride to whichever church you can each week. You'll hop around, you'll settle in at one place for a while and then another. Most people will be nice and most intentions good, but finding your true faith and true mission is a ways down the road yet. Hang in there. In the meantime, you'll serve in roles that are great and roles that make you want to yell. Church will lift you up and bring you down. Your heart will be broken for, with and by others and, bless your heart, you'll struggle with a level of anger and confusion you never thought yourself capable of feeling. But here's the thing... Faith isn't about church. It's just really, really not. Faith is about doing what Jesus says and loving others with a fierce, active love that is blind to age, class, race, income, status, orientation, history or screw ups. It's really quite simple. Yet flippin' hard. Go peek at Matthew 25. File it away. Because He is going to use those words to mash up your heart and stir it all around and spit it out in such a new form that you won't even recognize your old version of faith.
Oh, and about having kids and starting a family with the reddish head camera boy...first take everything you've ever known about the nice, normal, conventional ways to build a family, put those in a tupperware, tie a nice bow around it and throw it into the middle of IH-35 where it will be smashed up by an 18 wheeler. Too graphic? Ok, how about this: go ahead and put your ovaries on a shelf. Just you wait, child. I can't even tell you...I just can't even. All that heart mashing and faith rewiring and courage growing will lead to the best and hardest thing you have ever done in your life. And it will be awesome. Trust me.
27-year-old Anna Pie
P.S. This thing called Facebook is about to be invented. It's cool, but don't let it take over your life.