But just a week ago, my actual blood-related sister also turned sixteen.
My sister, Kylee, is the youngest of all the children in my parents' home. She's bringing all the McKeeth girls up in the rear. It's a strange, almost sad feeling to have all the ducklings growing up. It's also a strange, exciting feeling to know that she could soon experience all the great things that have happened in my life.
This is my open letter, to her.
Holy cow. You are sixteen. That is, like, so old.
I mean that half-jokingly, because I keep being surprised at how old you are becoming. I don't think the mental image of a 7 year little girl with crazy bouncy curls will ever melt away in my memory.
At sixteen, you are taller than I'll ever be. Smarter, too, because you've learned from a lot of my mistakes and triumphs. Now that you're sixteen, there are a few more things you need to know.
The world isn't fair, but try to make up for it anyway.
When we were all little, we loved the Powerpuff Girls. Once we tried to "play" Powerpuff Girls. Since there are three of them, and four of us, we were had at quite the conundrum. It just wasn't right to leave out our baby sister from the game. Eventually, we figured out that the three oldest would be a girl, and you could be your very own type of Powerpuff Girl. I think we named her Flower, or Rose, or something to that effect.
The world isn't fair. But sometimes I think it's like that on purpose. It teaches us to be creative, including, serving, and above all- compassionate.
Don't let schooling interfere with your education.
Life, itself, is an education, if you let it be. At school, you don't learn deeply enough about family relationships, real world experiences, or what to expect once you're finished with the 8 hour days of sitting in classrooms. Travel, read, converse, and explore. There is so much to learn outside of the classroom.
That being said, high school is important. You learn about what interests you most, deadlines, socialization, peer to peer relationships, math, English verbs, and you do learn about world history. You do need to know all these things. Graduating high school is an event worth celebrating, because it can be really dang hard. You can do it.
What you invest in a husband is what will be returned for the rest of your life.
You're only sixteen, and presumably have at least a few years before you even consider marriage. It is good, I think, to be aware at a young age of how amazing and life-changing that decision will be before you make your vows.
Plus, you know, who you date, is who you marry.
If you choose a man with flimsy morals, you'll likely have a flimsy marriage, even if you're completely faithful.
If you choose a man who has strong convictions for family and for God, then you will have a family-oriented life who looks to their Heavenly Father for strength and guidance. You will find peace in your home.
And then there's a myriad of everything else in between.
Marriage is a calling, a status, an office. It is to be held in the highest regards. Men and women should be respected both ways, as equal leaders in their home. That sounds pretty easy and obvious, but it can hard to focus on that when you've been up all night with a newborn, and you're feeling downright grouchy the next morning. It's worth it to try to be nice anyway.
Have courage, and be kind.
I didn't make up that nifty phrase. That actually was the moral of the new Cinderella movie that just came out. Before you chalk it off to general life wisdom, hear me out for a second.
Cinderella is a story so well-known, that sometimes we forget how real it is . Ella is a girl faced with so much opposition, starting with the sickness and then death of her mother, and later her father. Opposition and strife continue, mainly from her own stepfamily. Of all places, that's not where she should be finding her grief.
Before Ella's mother passes away, she tells her only child to "Have courage, and be kind." Ella does the best she can, but every person has a breaking point. Ella reaches hers after a final straw of bullying from her stepmother. Ella breaks away from her stepmother in tears, and cries out in desperation "I just can't do it. I've tried to have courage. I have been kind. But I can't do it anymore." Then, her fairy godmother appears.
We don't have a "fairy godmother". There isn't a fairy that can come out of a pot, can make a gorgeous dress for us, and can give us a ride to the castle in a pumpkin.
But, we do have a Savior, who came from a tomb, who made the atonement for us, and who gave us the chance to have eternal life and joy in heaven.
Have courage, and be kind. When you have reached your limit, and your cup is empty of all good wishes, He will come fill it again for you.
There are so many great experiences coming up for you. There's a diploma waiting for you soon, more, if you want. There's romance. There's travel and learning from a first hand experience about the world. There are hard things probably won't stop coming, but neither will the peaceful/joyous moments.
As long as there's a storm, there is always the center where total peace is found. Make Christ your center, and you will have peace.
I love you, and I am proud of the woman you are becoming.