Yesterday my sister found some old photo albums at the farm where we grew up. She took a few photos of photos (hence the glare and low quality) and sent them to me. Look at this sweet one of little bitty me in footie jammies and a towel turban, probably after a bath. I love my sweet little face, the chubby cheeks, the freckles that you can’t quite see in the pic but that my mind automatically interprets.
I had read somewhere online about how cruel we are to ourselves as adults, how we would never criticize children with the hurtful words we say to our own souls. Last night I looked at this picture and imagined myself saying things to this little girl that I say to myself regularly: that I feel like a failure, that I’m fat and undesirable.
I started to cry. All I want to say to Little Jackie is encouragement: that she is so smart and clever, so funny and interesting, that already she is telling stories and that she must keep telling stories and that someday people will bind those stories into a book and people all over will read them. I want to tell her that life will be hard, but that she is strong … strong-willed, strong-minded. That she isn’t the kind of girl who gives up and how precious she is, how beloved.
I want her to know that at any size or weight, she is worthy of love, and that her mind is a good one, sometimes too good, sometimes so fast and sharp and overactive that it will lead to some sadness and fear, but that she can overcome that too. I want to remind her that she has incredible parents, incredible siblings, and will someday have a whole host of friends who will absolutely adore her mind, her heart, her creativity. That even when she thinks that God has turned away, he never did.
Little Jackie, there are so many hard things in the years ahead, but you are never, ever alone. You have the capacity to love and create. You can go after your dreams and reach them, and you will be supported every step of the way. You will get sick– first, in your mind– but it will turn out okay when you ask for help. Then you will get sick in your body, but it doesn’t mean that you are not worthy of good things. Sickness isn’t your fault, and you will have the courage to ask for help and the fortune of receiving it.
Little Jackie, there are so many good things coming in the years ahead: so much laughing, so many stories, so many great people, so much potential.
Little Jackie, I believe in you.