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What I Would Tell My 16-Year-Old Self

By Rebekah Hargraves

Sometimes I really wish time travel were a thing. Because if I could travel back in time, I would love to meet my 16-year-old self and share some important truths with her that I’ve learned since then. These truths would have saved me so much heartache if only I would have understood them years ago.


Your parents know far more than you think.

As a mom now myself, I realize that there are things my parents told me when I was young, that I now see to be true. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true- Wisdom does come with age, and there are things my parents understood and tried to tell me about that I should have embraced as truth when I was 16. Instead, I sometimes thought my parents were a little “behind the times” or didn’t understand how deeply I felt about something. Something trivial now, but at the time seemed like a life-or-death situation. But now I see it really wasn’t. I would have saved myself so much inner turmoil if I had just trusted them.


The things that feel vastly important really aren’t in the scheme of things.

When you’re 16 and don’t have any boys interested in you, it can feel like a big problem. Or when you break up with a guy you are head-over-heels in love with, it can feel earth-shattering. I remember when I was 12 and my family moved from Texas to Tennessee. I had the biggest crush on a boy in my youth group at the time and I thought he was the perfect catch. I wanted to marry him. You can imagine my despair, when my family uprooted us and we moved 14 hours away to a city where I knew no one. But you know what? It was in that unfamiliar city that I met the man who is now my husband, and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. Was moving a big deal at age 12? Absolutely! But I look back on that season now with so much gratitude to God for leading me through it all. After all, it’s how He led me to my husband!


Only God can satisfy the desires of your heart.

At 16 it’s easy to believe that having the perfect boyfriend or the approval of the “cool kids” will satisfy the deepest desires of your heart. But now, at age 26, I have learned the truth: It won’t. Only God can satisfy the deepest of our heart’s desires. Only in Him can we find the kind of perfect, unconditional love for which we all seek. It’s all in Him.


Your approval from God is not based on what you do, but whose you are.

For years I legalistically believed that in order for God to approve of me, I had to dot all my i’s, cross all my t’s and live the perfect Christian life. But that’s not the truth of the gospel. The good news of the gospel is that when you place saving faith in Christ and what He accomplished for you on the cross, you are given His righteousness as your own. From now on, when the Father looks at you, He sees the Son and is pleased.


Your quiet time should not be a legalistic addition to your to-do list, but rather a tool to deepen your relationship with the Father.

All through my teen years I struggled with keeping a daily “quiet time” habit. I would succeed for a week or even two at a time and then “fail.” But that was because I was viewing it as something I had to do, not something I got to do. If I had viewed meeting with the Lord as the privilege it truly is, things would have been different.


You don’t need to have the rest of your life figured out and planned by the time you’re 18.

When you’re 16, it’s easy to think you need to have the entire course of your life all mapped out by the time you graduate. But the truth is that you don’t. All you have to do is walk by the Spirit and heed His leading. He will direct your path (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Learn from my mistakes, sweet sister, and take these truths as your own. They will save you some of the trial and heartache I experienced and will draw you closer to your Father in the process.


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