Dear K, 17 Years Old

Category |

Dear K,

Someday, probably in the not so distant future, some boy will sweep your off your feet - and he won't know how lucky he'll be.

I'm sure that in the beginning he will note your blonde curls, intelligent eyes, and sweet smile. He is sure to observe the winsome way you speak to people of all ages and your constant kindness to those around you. But the depth and beauty of your spirit goes far beyond first impressions.

Your gentle way of approaching life will make you a wonderful wife, mother, and friend. You consistently put others above yourself - quietly, without pomp or circumstance. You give generously and selflessly - to both strangers and to your family. You are not one of those insidious types that acts one way around people you want to impress and another way at home. Instead, you are remarkably merciful and mature no matter who is watching, acting from a deep, inner conviction. If I could describe you, I would liken you to a light in the darkness - shining without flickering, providing warmth and vision to the people in your presence.

Many people know you for your interest in academics and love of learning. You find joy in solving complex math problems, doing labs to discover the wonder of how things work, and writing stories with great depth and meaning. In fact, you can't quite decide on a college major because you have so many strengths. Math, Neuroscience, Biblical Studies, or Rhetoric --- Which will it be? Time will tell. One thing is certain: you'll do well and rise high no matter what you do.

Although you are currently listing Pre-Med as your track on college applications, being a student of the Word of God is your primary aim. You study your Bible daily without prompting. On many nights, when the lights are out, we hear whispering and find you engaged in a Bible study with your younger sister. Your love for the Lord is apparent in your actions.

In Jane Austen's day, people would have called you "accomplished." Today, they're more likely to use words like "versatile," "successful," and "artistic." Your well-roundedness is something to be admired. You paint beautifully, write masterfully, sing with chorales, dabble in a number of musical instruments, and give inspiring oratories. You are also a wonder in the kitchen, cooking up flavorful and healthy dishes as a self-taught chef. Plus, you can french braid hair, care for babies, decorate for parties, and play the part of a warm hostess to visitors to our home. You do all of these things for the simple and pure love of the task.

Although you are gifted in public speaking and take every opportunity to be on stage, you are not a person of many words. A paradox. You are articulate and eloquent, but simultaneously thoughtful and quiet. As is sometimes the case with introverts and old souls, peers may sometimes mistake you for being snobbish - but that couldn't be further from the truth. You're just intentional with your words - not trivial, coarse, or careless - which is a wonderful trait, don't let people tell you otherwise.

You are unpretentious about your looks, concerned about things of greater consequence. Your bathroom counters are *not* strewn with makeup and hair appliances. You're far more practical (and wise). When it comes to hair, you're more of a "wash and go" kind of girl. When it comes to your clothes, you dress well - but without spending too much energy on superficial things. When it comes to beauty, you realize that it comes from within. You are, again, a paradox in that you would prefer to dress in one of these three categories: (1) at the peak of professionalism, (2) in attire for a ball of yore, or...(3) in hiking shorts & boots. You're never sloppy or immodest (by thoughtful intention), nor are you particularly swayed by current trends. You stay as far away from teenage attire (crocs, crop tops, short shorts, rips and tears, etc) as you possibly can.

Speaking of teenagers, you are weary of the culture of adolescence:

  • Text messaging? You'd rather write a letter.
  • Social media? No, thank you.
  • Slang terms and abbreviations? You stick to proper grammar.
  • Consuming current television or the latest fiction fads? Absolutely not.
  • Acting air-headed, brash, or flirtatious? Not a chance.
  • Posing for pictures with weird filters or hand signs? You'd rather smile regally, with perfect posture, like a princess from abroad.

Remember the movie Princess Diaries where the young heroine must learn manners and charm through a rather painful process? You know all of the rules of decorum already - no academy needed. If a foreign country ever finds itself in need of a new royal leader, you could step in gracefully with very little training.

All of the above sometimes means that you are lonely. Bosom friends are hard to find, but perhaps as Anne of Green Gables discovered, they are not quite as rare as you might think. Loneliness is inevitably part of the Christian life, but my prayer is that God will grant you a few close friends in the coming college years. You're a great friend, by the way - I know because I count your friendship as one of my greatest gifts. You are interesting to talk to and willing to try new things (hiking, pickleball, backpacking, volleyball, tennis, music, theatre, travel, flying airplanes - you'll do it all!).

As you apply to colleges, my prayer is that the admissions team will see what we see - your intellect, your genuineness, your goodness, your capacity for compassion, and your many marvelous talents. If a college wants an alum to spotlight in the future, they would be smart to snatch you up fast.

Happy 17th, K! Keep pressing on and living out 1 Corinthians 15:58, "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." We are proud of you and love you to the moon and back.

* I write letters to each of my children on their birthdays so that they will remember and I won’t forget. As Sheldon Vanauken so aptly put it, “Writing has something of the timeless about it – a breath of eternity.” 

©2024 Stephanie Sheaffer - All Rights Reserved
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram