A Letter to Teenage Girls About Love

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Dear confused, wandering Teenage Girl,

Right now, you are wondering why no boys like you.

You might be asking yourself questions such as, “Am I not pretty enough? Am I pretty at all, or am I actually just fooling myself because facing the reality that I might not be pretty is too painful? Am I not outgoing enough, confident enough, or carefree enough for someone to like me?”

You’ve read that boys like girls who are confident. And you may think that next year, or the year after, you will finally feel confident in who you are, and the confidence will make you likable and attractive. If only I could grow up a little more, you think. Confidence comes with age. Or maybe a new haircut.

When I reach my twenties, you think, I’ll be so sure of who I am that men will want me, and I finally won’t care whether they want me or not. And this indifference will make them want me more. And maybe I’ll want one back, and he’ll feel like the luckiest man in the world to have me. His love will make me feel beautiful, even though I already know I’m beautiful, because I finally started working out and wearing good clothes.

 You might get more confident with age, and you likely will. But your insecurities will follow you into your twenties and surely beyond. When that happens, you may find that now your insecurities are far more complex and worrisome, and this will feel bad and confusing but you will get to know these voices and learn how to silence them.

The belief that boys like girls who are confident is only going to get you so far. It might secure you those first few dates, but eventually this wall of protective and attractive confidence will fall down in a great dusty heap and you will see each other’s deepest, ugliest wounds. He will see your pettiness and self-doubt, and you will see his old choices that hurt himself and probably others.

Confidence is mostly a façade, and your bond will not be built on admiring each other’s ability to be attractive.

You’re going to hear a lot about chemistry and love and falling in love, and you’ll think that what is most trustworthy is feelings, not friendship. Friendship is blah, boring, regular. Friendship does not have dramatic soundtracks in its background, and it doesn’t keep you up late at night talking and laughing and whispering with your friends.

So one day you might be surprised to discover that true love (as in part-of-my-bones love) happens because of friendship.

Dear One, I want to tell you something.

My fireman proposed to me on top of a mountain the day I turned 25. Almost a year later, I fell even more madly in love with him.

Did I love him when he proposed? Duh. But after living even more life with him, experiences and days and moments, I loved him so much more. 

With time comes the privilege of seeing someone, if we choose. And choosing to see someone is brave.

What is even more brave is choosing to stick around anyway, if the circumstances are healthy to do so. Real love comes with real seeing, and from this a bond is born that melts away your illusions about feelings and passion and quietly replaces them with something much stronger: partnership and friendship.

It’s a shock to the system to realize that after all this time, all the past relationships and first dates and first kisses and love letters and texts with your girlfriends and even the eventual proposal, what you were working towards all along was not the height of passion but rather the peaceful valley of mutual, joyful friendship.

I hope that when you long for love, you are not longing to be perfected by love.

Love will not make you perfect, and it will not arrive in your life as a result of you being perfect. There is in fact one perfect love, and his name is Jesus and God and Savior, and while his love is perfect and unchanging you will still find yourself asking questions about His love well into your adult years when you would have thought this part of your life would have felt more secure by now.

Love will not perfect your soul. It will expose your soul, change your soul, accompany and settle into your soul, but never perfect it. You will still feel weird about love, about others, about yourself. Love will still hold so many questions and fears, even after the proposal, even after you are married.

Pray about love. Pray about what your longing for love is doing to you right now. Get mad. Be hurt. Tell God why it’s unfair that everyone else has someone and you don’t, and get to the bottom of why you are mad about that, even if it hurts. God cares about human relationships. Really. You were wired to desire relationship, both friendship and romantic. The first relationship on earth was one of sexual, romantic love. God gives a sh*t.

Don’t mistake the sudden appearance of romantic love as some sort of reward from God for praying enough or being perfect or saving sex for marriage. The right relationships make life good, but they are still real and hard and totally imperfect. Real relationship with real people is the hardest thing you will do.

I hope you know you have the power to become the woman you dream of being, whether that woman ever even ends up married or not. It feels like being married matters, and it may always, forever, feel that way. And when that happens, write about it. Talk about it. Scream to God about it and take long, weepy drives and burn pictures of your ex-boyfriends in your backyard with your best friend. Let yourself be broken and overjoyed and scared and confused and never find all the answers.

For just as you will never truly get yourself all the way together, so too will you find yourself constantly surprised by yet another discovery about love.

4 replies »

  1. Dear Julia! I am continually amazed – but never surprised – by the depth of your insight and caring, followed by your willingness and ability to write eloquently. Only God could give you a voice that speaks to me so clearly in a letter you wrote to a teenaged girl! As we well know, I am WAY past those years. 😉 My heart is holding your words, ” I hope you know you have the power to become the woman you dream of being,”. I feel like I am in a season of change, and your words are a bright light of hope to my struggling, confused heart. Thank you, dear one.

  2. I loved this post sooo much. As a teenager, I never looked at it this way at all. I now know that whenever I get my heartbroken or need to understand this topic more, then I can read this post and it will remind me thank you so much. 😊❤️️

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