I love you so much! I know that you are only five years old as I write this but there are some things I want to remember to share with you as you get older so I thought I'd write them down now while I'm thinking about them. I pray that you choose Jesus while you are still young. I pray that you know how much God loves you and that he is trustworthy and has wonderful plans for your life. I pray that you will choose to love and honor Him with your life. I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was 17, but I did not understand what it meant to follow him then and didn't really begin that process purposefully until I was nearly 20.
I wish I had been more secure in my knowledge of who I was in Christ and more confident in God's plans and provision for me. I struggled for several years with feeling shame at my failure and imperfection before learning that the shame and fear I felt were from Satan. God is love and perfect love casts out fear. There is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus. I didn't fully comprehend that my first couple of years of college and believed the enemy's lies about myself. I pray that you do not also believe the enemy's lies and so I want to share some of my experiences with the hope that you might not travel some of the same roads I did.
I made a public profession of faith in Jesus and was baptized the spring of my junior year of high school. I had a friend tell me he already thought I was a Christian. I was actually really good at following the rules and acting somewhat like someone who was a Christian. I hated getting in trouble and was fine with playing the role of a "goody two shoes". It was not the outward manifestation of a heart who loved Jesus. So when I was baptized, I continued in my rule following because I didn't know that there was more to being a Christian. Perhaps someone had talked to me about how much Jesus loved me and encouraged me to deepen the relationship through prayer and reading the Bible but I don't remember. Sometimes I wonder whether I would have been more firm in standing up for what I thought if I had gotten that aspect of the relationship with Jesus while in high school.
Nothing major happened between 17 and 20 but I had some stumbles I was afraid to share for a long time because I thought it made me a bad Christian and I would be judged poorly by other Christians (and considered a hypocrite by those who didn't believe in Jesus). I allowed the physical boundaries I had set up for myself to be breached because I feared that if I stood firm I would be rejected (and I am a recovering people pleaser). At the time I did not trust that God had plans regarding my relationships and would provide me with a man who loved God and loved me enough to respect my boundaries. I sought man's approval over God's. I admit that I blamed others for taking advantage of my naivety and trust and for manipulating my emotions. I am learning to see that they are human, too, and were seeking love and acceptance like the rest of us. I understand now that they were trying to obtain that love and acceptance in the ways the world told them were right or normal. I'm not saying that there is not responsibility on all sides, I'm just saying that I don't think they were trying to purposefully hurt or take advantage of me.
I share this with you to say that God is trustworthy and faithful. He knows what you need when you need it and will provide you with it at just the right time. This includes a loving, respectful relationship. It is important to remember that God's timing is not your timing. I know several people who dearly love Jesus and had to wait longer than they wanted to meet and marry their spouse. It is possible that you may meet your spouse in high school and college so I'm not going to say that dating during these times is fruitless but I don't think finding a spouse should be your main objective. I think you should focus on loving and serving God with your life. If you are pursuing his purposes, he will provide whatever is needed, including relationships. I believe that God will provide you with a spouse who respects you and your boundaries, one who does not put any pressure on you to prove your love for them. I believe someone who truly loves God and is pursuing Him themselves will be more concerned with increasing your intimacy with God than increasing your level of physical intimacy with one another.
Right about the time I started to understand more about what having an authentic relationship with Jesus meant, I met your father. In one of our first interactions I attempted to share my faith with him. It turned out he already knew Jesus, but it was a good start to a potential friendship. God's timing was perfect. I was seeking to know God more and was quite excited about what I was learning. As such it was a subject I brought up often and wanted to discuss with others. In our first few months of getting to know each other I was praying a lot more and seeking God's guidance. We were friends for about eight months (part of that time I was dating someone else, the rest was spent trying not to begin a dating relationship with your father before I studied abroad for a semester). Our first four months of "dating" were spent on pay phones using international calling cards and long emails filled with questions about one another. As hard as it sounds not having any physical contact for months, it was such a blessing. I feel like we were really able to spend that time focusing on our individual relationships with God and encouraging one another in our faiths. It helped secure our relationship to God, I think. Our dating relationship wasn't perfect (obviously since there was a break-up along the way - another story for another day) but I know God was in it with us and helped us become people who encouraged, supported, loved and were committed to one another. That's what I want for you - a spouse who loves you and God, supports you, encourages you in your endeavors and faith and is committed to you and your relationship together.
My precious girl, you are worth the wait. You are worth a commitment of love and faithfulness. You are worthy of a spouse who loves you and respects you and encourages you to become the woman God created you to be. You are lovable just as you are and there is nothing you must do to earn or be worthy of another's love. Jesus loved us before we loved and knew him. He found us worthy of love and sacrifice simply because we are God's creation. If Christ's love has no demands, then neither should man's. Love is something that is to be freely given without expectation or demand for reciprocation. Remember that God loves you no matter what and that your father and I will also always love you. You cannot lose God's love nor ours. It is yours regardless of your words, thoughts or actions. We love you and desire God's best for you and your life. We are proud of you and we pray that you will grow into the woman you were created to be, a woman who loves and serves God and others.