They Do Exist.

A Letter To My Disheartened 13 Year Old Self. Sincerely, 23.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Nadine Schroeder. She blogs at and tweets at @nadinewouldsay. Even if you aren’t a writer, sit down this week and write a letter to yourself. At any age. Or write a lot of letters at different ages! It’s an incredible experience. – Lauren

Photo by Branden Harvey / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

Dear 13,

I met you again recently.

I was visiting at my parents and happened to grab an old journal off of my bookshelf in my old room. I figured I would just look at one entry but soon found myself scanning the entire thing and then moving onto more journals.

Oh 13, you were so sad. You were so lonely. You were so broken. You were trying to figure out how to please God, but you kept thinking that if you worked hard enough He would show up.

Everybody was hurting you. You wrote about giving people chances, you had pages filled with the names of everybody you knew and the ranking of how much they cared for you.

I remember those days. I remember feeling alone. I’ve been able to blur those years well enough that I can’t quite remember which girls said which comments, but I still remember parts of them.

Reading your words I can feel your pain again.

Oh darling, I wish I could go back and just hold you for a while. That’s all you needed – somebody to wrap their arms around you and tell you “you are beautiful, you are wonderful, you are loved.”

You wrote about praying and praying and praying for a friend who cared.

You wrote about wishing God would let you cry. Don’t worry sweets; God’s going to faithfully answer that prayer in the affirmative. You’re going to turn 22 and start crying all the time. You’ll be thankful that you prayed all those prayers for so many tears. You’ll suddenly start to be able to express the emotions you held in so very tightly for so many years.

You wanted to love Jesus but spent most of your time judging others. Part of me can’t blame you because I can remember how mean those girls were and how hurt you felt, but a much larger part of me wishes you had leaned into Jesus rather than made daily attempts to stand on your version of His pedestal in order to watch everybody else live their life.

There’s good news in this letter. His name is Jesus.

You’re going to meet Him. He’s going to change everything. It’ll take you a few more seasons until you get there though. In fact, you’ll even go so far as to not really believe in Him anymore for a while, but eventually you’ll come back. He’ll draw you back.

You’re going to move cities to find Him, and in His providence, that season will finally bring the friends who you prayed for as your 13 year old self. You’ll suddenly have friends who call you before you call them and who are just as excited to see you as you are to see them.

You’ll still wonder. You’ll still be unsure about what other people think, but day by day, sometimes minute by minute, you’ll draw closer to Jesus. As you draw closer to Him, you’ll start realizing that your worth comes from Him and not them. Eventually you’ll start to find peace there.

Some days you’ll forget. But most days you’ll rest in the words that He spoke.

Oh 13, you’re one sad chick. Your words written in those journals, they brought me near tears. They brought sadness to my heart as I remembered those years of feeling so very alone.

Sweet self, you had reason to be sad. Those girls were vicious. Those teachers didn’t know how to protect you. Your parents did the best they could, but I don’t think even they realized how close you got to ending your life.

I’m so glad you kept living. I know you only stayed alive because of the guilt of what killing yourself would do.

I remember those conversations reminding yourself to stay alive. 13, you took it day by day. You didn’t think you could make it through, but you did. I remember standing there, so many afternoons in that hour between getting home from school and Mom getting home. I remember, so many days and weeks in a row, considering ending it all. Guilt saved you.

I don’t think many could say that.

That guilt will be what saves you. You’ll go back to Jesus because you’ll feel guilt and condemnation. Later you’ll realize that Jesus never spoke that guilt or condemnation. He spoke mercy and grace, protection and care, love and kindness over you each day that you were away from Him. Your guilt will guide you to His grace.

13, I wish I could change the things that happened. I wish the words you were penning at the time didn’t have need to be written.

But they made you who you are. They made you become a girl who can easily forgive and can, because of Jesus, give a thousand chances to people. Those years will bring a lot of hurt to your adult life as you sort out how to trust people but they’ll also lead to a lot of healing as you start to finally lean into Jesus.

Oh 13, I wish I could come save you. But I can’t save you. I couldn’t then, and I can’t now. But Jesus can. Keep trying to find Him because in a few years, you’ll finally realize that He was with you all along.


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20 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    Yup. That was me at 13.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:17 pm

  2. achosenwarrior

    that was me at 11/12 ish. About 2 years ago, I went back and read those journals and got so upset with my younger self that i threw them out. Reading this makes me wish i hadn't gotten rid of them… But for years I would cry about not having a best friend and my mom would always tell me that someday i will have one. Now I totally see that God has abundantly blessed me with 3 best friends. A lesson in His faithfulness and provision…something i need to be reminded of when i cry about not having a significant other.. hmm.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:13 pm

  3. Girl

    I had the same things in my journal at that age. I'm 20 now and all I can say is thank you Holy Spirit for speaking to me when I actually tried to end it all… because life is so much more! I really met God only 2 years ago, but these years have changed me and my life completely! at 13 I thought the world was out to get me, I hated myself and thought nothing good would ever happen to me – and today I am thankful for the wishes that didn't come true, because life wouldn't be as great as it is. this post brought me to tears! today I realized I am still dealing with some of the things that came to me at that age and I pray that Jesus will give me the strength to heal once and for all, and to stop some bad habits. the way I see the world has changed so much since I was 13 and I guess it's just the difficult age you have to go through to be able to appreciate life afterwards :) learn to take it all easier and I know I've learned to not take myself so seriously all the time. all thanks to God and His amazing work with my life!

    January 19, 2013 at 11:22 pm

  4. scream911

    I feel like I could have written this letter. I'm writing a book as a series of letters to myself right from when I'm born as I remember. Great to see there are others visiting hurt and speaking hope. Thank you.

    January 20, 2013 at 9:09 am

  5. <3

    January 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm

  6. wow, it could have been my life too except that I never thought of taking my life, I just refused to feel anything, I was determined to be this perfect little robot who's always fine and as the years went by, bulllying started. I didn't cry either, crying would mean showing them they were hurting me so I built up this shell but the problem was this shell was for everybody, not just my bullies. And it got lonely in this shell. I cry now too, a lot lol but I know it's necessary for me to be in touch with my emotions. I'll write letters to myself too, I think it could be a good thing for me. Thank you for sharing your story and your vulnerability, I know it's not easy

    January 21, 2013 at 5:42 am

  7. Emily

    Thank you.

    January 21, 2013 at 2:52 pm

  8. Oryana

    Thank You – from 13 years old Me!
    Thank you for this letter from the bottom of my heart.

    January 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm

  9. I can't even begin to describe how much I relate to this.

    January 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm

  10. K.C.

    tears are running down my face as this letter could have been written about me, word for word. i have not yet reached the state you are in, but i sure hope i do. lately i often feel like i am 13 again, but this letter was a reminder of the identity i have now, and not hope to have some day. thank you so much for sharing this, i can't explain how it has impacted me.

    January 29, 2013 at 2:56 am

  11. Gilly

    I'm 15 almost 16 and I just have to say this was me during the last year or two. The worst part was that my parents never realised how sad and depressed I was. I told my mom a couple of times, after telling her, she would be sweet and nice tom me for a couple of days, then it returned to normal again; but I was still sad.

    Thankfully, I know this year is going to be a happy one, the turning point for me. A couple of months ago, I got a sweet kitten, she got me out of depression, something not even my best friend had managed to do. I also have a crush on this guy and I hope it eventually becomes something. I'm starting to eat healthier things, hoping to lose a little bit of weight (I'm not overweight, but not thin either), but specially to feel better. Who knows, maybe I'll even swim a little.

    The only thing I have to be careful with is my brother leaving for college in 6 months, as I'll probably feel lonely at home.

    Thanks for this post.

    January 30, 2013 at 8:41 pm

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  13. Christie Esau

    Nadine, thank you so very much for this beautiful, honest post. And let me speak, from almost 4 years further in the future: You're right. God was (and is) with you all along, and he will continue to be with you, even in the darkest and most painful moments of your life.

    But goodness. Prepare yourself for the joy and excitement of your mid-to-late 20s, because girl it is SO good.

    February 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm

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