Dear Carey.

A two week series on learning from the past and looking to the future…

Dear 16-year-old Carey,

A fumble may be small but you can learn from it. An outright mistake may be large but don’t worry, it actually helps you grow. And while you were a really good girl who strove for perfection at all times there is one thing in hindsight that I would warn you about. Try not to take this too personally. I am not criticizing, just trying to help you get the most out of your early days.

In first grade his name was Andy and he lasted all the way to 3rd grade. In 4th grade his name was Jason, in 5th grade his name was Grant. Junior High there was Chris, Matt, Lee, Alex, Bobby, and Graham. You really like liked Graham a lot and would probably consider him to be your first true heartbreak. In high school there was Matt number 2 and then Ryan. Ryan stuck. You kept him around till you left for college. Can I stop there? You get the picture, right?

Let’s talk about this. A boyfriend is nice. It is fun to say you have a boyfriend. It is nice to hold hands with someone in the movies, it is cool that you never have to walk to and from each class alone, and that you can stay up late at night sharing hopes and dreams on the phone. But let me tell you a little secret. A boyfriend is not needed for survival. I promise! There doesn’t always have to be a boyfriend. And while the Bible does speak of leaving your mother and father for a spouse there was no need to go on a quest for “the one” at age eight. That is just plain silly! I understand your love of dreaming and grand fairy tales.  You dreamed big. Dreams of marrying your childhood sweetheart, having kids, and telling stories that made peoples heart melt. You were crossing your fingers for romance, love notes, surprises, and things written for soap operas. I love that dreamer side of you. Don’t lose it, just use it in other ways.

Here is what I know now. Enjoy friends! Enjoy your girlfriends. Have sleepovers, stay up all night, talk on the phone, giggle, go to the mall, and bask in the sun (with sunscreen, of course). Hang out with your family! Go to church together, have lunch with them, go on road trips with a smile on your face, play with your siblings, appreciate that they are there. Don’t let boys make you so nervous! I know now that you always liked having a boyfriend because it kept you safe. You didn’t have to put yourself out there because you were “taken.” They may be boys but they are just human beings that you can learn from and have as just friends. I say all this because I know without a shadow of a doubt no matter how much you try to fashion “the one” for you it won’t do you any good. You are not the one in charge. God has to pick him for you.

16-year-old Carey, your style led to heartbreaks. You experienced more heartbreaks than needed because you were trying to control the boyfriend situation, make it work, and ignore the stop signs that God was throwing in your way. The thing you can be certain of is this: don’t worry! Don’t worry about the future. It will come.

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act” Psalm 37:7a

It just won’t be in your time. It will be in God’s time. And it certainly won’t look as you planned. It will look as God desires. And this Carey, allowing your life to look as God designed for you, is the grandest storybook story that can ever be told.

Enjoy the journey.

With Joy, Carey

Bio: Carey C Bailey

I am a lover of grace through Christ, a wife to the hilarious Mr. Bailey, and a mother to two precious children of God. I host an online community for mothers called Cravings: desiring God in the midst of motherhood. After having kids, I realized I had to make a shift in my personal devotional time. The days of chillin in my comfy chair reading my Bible, journaling, and sipping hot tea were gone. I had to make it easier not less meaningful, just easier.

My goal at Cravings is to walk with moms in creating a powerful relationship with God in the midst of motherhood. My promise is that Cravings is a place of inspiration, encouragement, and community. I want you to be able to walk in and out of each day satisfied because The Bible, not cupcakes, filled you up.

Cravings first product, daily devotional flashcards, will be in stores in August. Stop by and stay awhile.

Stay connected with Carey: website / blog / facebook / twitter


  • Anonymous

    Carey what excellent words.  I think so many women (regardless of age) can hear these words when it comes to finding the contentment needed in Jesus & not boys.  Oh how I wish I heard these words & listened when I was younger.  Finding rest & satisfaction in God alone:)

    • @Kamille_RedeemingtheTable:disqus Thanks Kamille. Amazing how easy it is for us to place more value in anything BUT Jesus. Glad we have community. With Joy, Carey

  • becky.nummerdor

    Thank you for posting this Carey! This couldn’t have come at a better time for me to read this :) 

    • @google-6a708767ec99da5240d884e7144c54db:disqus 
      Oh Becky! I am so glad it hit home for you. With Joy, Carey

  • Such a great idea, the letter to 16-year-old self!  Not sure I’m ready to blog mine, but I can say it would be nearly these same words plus some.  Thanks for sharing!!

    • @msargirl:disqus 
      It was not easy. Wouldn’t want to tackle every year of my life. :) With Joy, Carey