to the six-year old me

To the six-year old me,

There are some things you need to know. About you, about what’s going to happen, about what you’re going to experience. You won’t understand everything I’m trying to say, but one day soon, you will.

Know before anything else that you are valuable, and you are loved. You’re trying so hard to become someone you’re not. Why? What is it all for? So that your family will love you, and honor and respect your mom? It is a noble idea, a noble thing to aim for, but the fault is not with you. You should be loved simply because you were born.

You’re six. You’re too young to have the world placed on your shoulders. How can such tiny and adorable hands and arms bear the weight of centuries, millennia – lots and lots of years – of damaging and hurtful expectations? How can such an innocent heart that just wants to be loved be denied something as vital as love?

This game they’re playing – your uncles and cousins and everyone – it’s unfair to you. They are going to cheat. Your family is going to cheat. They will push you toward the finish line with hurtful words, but they will keep moving the line farther and farther back. You will never win against them because they will never let you come any closer.

I know what you’re thinking. How? Because I’ve thought the same thing.

“If only I was born a boy. Then things would be different. Then they’d let me play with them, they’d spoil me like they spoil the other boys. And they’d treat Mom nicely because she had a son.”

Kiddo, you were born a girl. Mom had a daughter. You can’t be a son.

And that is more than okay.

You are who you’re supposed to be. You’re a girl born to the only girl left in the family. You are beautiful because you were born – stop thinking you’re ugly and not enough. Your family – your relatives – they aren’t going to understand this. You won’t either – not for a while. But you will. I promise you, you will. Don’t believe the lies anymore. Don’t play their game anymore.

This is going to be hard, but you need to start speaking up. I know you’re shy. You’re so shy that your family thinks you’re being bad because you don’t talk to them. That will change one day because it will have to. You won’t be able to stay quiet forever.

Your uncles, aunties, cousins… I’m sorry, but they will keep hurting you like they already are. Maybe you don’t feel hurt, but you feel lonely, right? And it doesn’t feel good. They won’t let you feel anything else. Stop playing this game – they will cheat to win, and cheating is not in you.

A few years from now, things will get tough, but you can’t give up, okay? Keep moving, keep walking. I promise you, if you do that, you will get something even better than the love of your relatives. You will meet Someone who will ask nothing of you but that you be you and that you love Him and follow Him. Not too hard, right? Less than what you’re trying to do right now.

Why is He wonderful? Because He loves you just because you were born. He loves you because He made you. He made you because He loved you already. You’ll see what I mean some day.

He will take you out of that un-winnable game, but it’s going to be hard, and you’re going to have to be brave, okay? Can you do that? That’s right. You’re no quitter. The bad times won’t be forever. And you’re going to end up just fine.

How do I know?

Well, let’s just say I’ve been there, too.

featured in WitnessLA February 2013