I’m 14, and I’m scared and confused. Help?

Dear AMG:

I am a 14 year old girl and I need help with a few things. A year ago my dad told us about his two year affair (my mom is Mormon but my dad is not) and he left for a few months. I closed myself away from my family and friends. Our family hadn’t been going to church for a while. Then, I had some family members die. I got mad at my Heavenly Father for the deaths and my dad leaving. My self esteem is in the negatives and I have done self harm to myself. I have stopped that though. My dad came back and our family is working it out. But I still don’t feel good. I have broken rules from the book of Mormon and the bible and most likely every book. I had gotten a boyfriend that was not Mormon and he was a ‘bad boy’ I guess. I held off from him for a while with kissing but he was so strong about it I was scared he would leave. So I let him take my first kiss and he didn’t stop there. I know I should have kept a stronger faith and self worth but I didn’t. I’m worried that I have done things that are inexcusable and my Heavenly Father won’t take me back. I have amazing friends now. Both Mormon and not Mormon. But I need some guidance. My friend told me about you and I felt like you were the person to ask. So I’m sorry if this is a confusing letter but I am more confused and scared then I thought was possible.

Confused


Dear Confused:

I wish I could wrap my favorite pink-and-purple butterfly quilt around your shoulders and sit you down at the kitchen table. Are you hungry? Do you like spaghetti and meatballs? That’s my favorite comfort food, but I’ll cook you anything you want. And after I make sure you’re warm and fed, this is what I’d like to tell you:

Of course you feel confused, scared, and alone. You are fourteen years old, and you’ve been dealing with some bigtime life challenges. People you rely on—including your dad—have brought a big dose of chaos into your world. And when our families get chaotic, we sometimes act out our feelings of frustration, sorrow, and anger by making choices that aren’t the best for us in the long run—like self-harm, and dating “bad boys” who may pressure us into kinds of intimacy we’re not ready for. Please know you are not the only Mormon girl from a chaotic family who has made choices she regrets.

And please know that lots of Mormon girls like you find your way back. Because my dear, you are loved, you are loved, you are loved. Heck, I don’t even know you, but my heart is bursting out of my chest with love for you right now. And if that’s how I feel about you, imagine how much your Heavenly Mother and Father love you too. You have the right to feel that love. Right now. No matter what has happened. I promise you that God is loving and merciful beyond our comprehension.

Today, I want you to focus on having the kind of day that will help you feel that love. Do not dwell on the choices you’ve made in the past. (In time, when you’re ready, you will straighten it all out.) Focus on today. Focus on taking care of your body, your mind, and your spirit. Give yourself a rest from all unnecessary drama (including boys), do your homework, spend time with people who will protect you and help you feel good, and shut out people who do not. Try to pray. When you pray, I want you to tell God exactly what you told me. Tell God that you are fourteen and scared and ashamed and alone and that you need to feel some love right now. I have said prayers like that, and I have felt God lift the hurt from my chest.

Now, a few more final instructions, while you’re still wrapped up in that butterfly quilt. I want you to print out this email and all the beautiful comments that will follow and stick them in your pocket and read them frequently. Then, I want you to think of one adult in your everyday life, someone you can trust—your mom, or your aunt, or one of your teachers at church, or the parent of one of your friends—and tell them what you told me. Finally, I want you to write back soon and tell me—tell all of us—how you are doing. Hang in there, confused. You deserve to feel safe and loved. If your family is a little chaotic right now, you may need to be the one who looks out for you for a while. But I promise that if you today do your best to take care of yourself you will find love and help from unexpected places.

Okay, lovely readers, it’s your turn. What words of kindness and wisdom do you have for “confused”?

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow askmormongirl on Twitter.

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11 Comments

Filed under young women

11 responses to “I’m 14, and I’m scared and confused. Help?

  1. Briar

    Dear Confused,
    My stories are similar but not exactly the same. My father died when I was 17. He was a convert and struggled with the Word of Wisdom. We lived in Utah and he worked in Vegas all week. I’d only see him on weekends. He died months before he was going to retire. I never got much time with him and I was sealed after he was dead. I always wished he’d have been at the temple for that. That he could give me a father’s blessing like my friend’s fathers could. Now I’m an adult I realize that the mistakes he made disappointed him even more that they did me. He never meant to hurt me and now I’ve made mistakes too. It’s not easy being an adult and we do our best as well. Sometimes it’s not very good at all.

    I, too was drawn to bad boys and compromised my values. But repentance is an amazing thing. You can come back from the things you’ve done with a loving Father in Heaven that will never even remember it. I have teen girls your age and the thing that makes me most proud of them and of you is not that you’re perfect but that you recognize that you need to change your path because it’s not making you happy.

    Last thing. 1o years ago I was cursed with a chronic headache. I was very faithful and had 6 callings in church. More and more I withdraw from life. I’ve gone long periods of time being so angry at God because I was doing all the right things and my family didn’t deserve a defective mom. I no longer have a church calling at all. I feel so angry and I rage at God but knowing how much I love my kids, I know He loves me even more. Even when I’m angry.

    We aren’t here to be perfect. We are here to learn and to grow. You are on the right path simply because you recognize that you need help and love. Joanna is right. We love you instantly because you shared with us. Forgive yourself. And definitely keep us updated.

    All my love and prayers,
    Briar

  2. Jerilyn

    Dear Confused,

    I second the love for you, both from myself as a mother of teenagers and as a child of God. There is nothing you can do that will force God to turn from you, and it is often when we are at our lowest and most vulnerable that we are best prepared to feel His love.

    This life is a journey. We are expected to struggle and even fail. Perfection without trial was Satan’s plan. It is through our struggles that we can feel the comfort of the Savior and begin to comprehend the Atonement. Your trials now will serve to strengthen your testimony and give you empathy for others who struggle with the same or similar things. These are incredible gifts for someone your age!

    Feelings of self-loathing and worthlessness are tools of Satan. He will do everything he can to keep you from feeling the love of God. Do not dwell on your mistakes. Repentance is the ultimate act of love between you and God. Allow that miracle to happen in your life.

    The outpouring of love you are likely to receive here is a manifestation of God’s love for you. I hope you are able to find some comfort in this. Please keep us posted on your progress.

  3. Megan King

    First, you are a brave and strong young girl! Just being able to talk about all of this and seek advice is an impressive task. I can hear in your words that you have hope and you recognize the Lord is there. Don’t keep Him and your Heavenly Mother out of this. They love you and want to wrap their arms around you and comfort you. Praying is one of the fastest ways you can get close to your Heavenly Father and feel of his love for you. Don’t forget that you are a daughter of God…wow right?! You are so special and important and nothing will change that. That will always be true. You are a beautiful daughter of God and I can tell you are a bright, strong, capable young woman!

  4. Haley(aka confused) :)

    This is confused. I would like to thank you for all your advise. It made me realize how truly loved I am by people in my life. That guy is out of my life and I have better friends now. My parents got Ina. Fight last weekend but I think it is okay now. Thank you all and I’ll keep updating you. Keep the help coming as I may need it in some to come trials. Thank you again and I love all of you.

    -confused.

  5. Gi

    I can understand how you feel and repeat what peopl said before: you´re loved! Don´t give up yourselfm don´t give up God! Go toChurch, tell everything to a leader, let help come to you, everything will turn out allright! You´ll be fine! All this bad feelings will pass and you´ll be fine! Trust!

  6. Kaylee

    Haley,
    I hope you get to read this. I want to tell you some things. First off, I love you. Second off, I admire you.
    I am nineteen and a student at BYU. We have had very similar lives. My father, though a member, was unfaithful to my mother as well. I understand how hard it can be to handle that kind of stress, disappointment, and hurt. I found out about it when I was thirteen. At a time in your life that is already confusing enough, adding something like that to it can be nearly unbearable. I too harmed myself. And I too dated a “bad boy.”

    Continue on the path you are on. Continue growing and loving the gospel. I allowed my trails to drag me away from God and into darkness when I should have allowed them to bring me closer to my Father in Heaven. You are smart to recognize who you are, to recognize that God has big plans for you. You are his daughter, he chose you to come to this earth at this time, in your family, to help them and strengthen them. To help and strengthen everyone you come in contact with through your sweet spirit and love. Never forget how much God loves you.

    I’ve only just recently come back to the church, and it has been the greatest source of comfort and love that I could ever ask for. Stay strong in the church, even when it gets tough. Be strong, be of good courage.

    I once heard a person in sacrament meeting say, “Sometimes we have to go through dark places to help others when they go through dark places. Sometimes we have to make mistakes to help others when they make mistakes.” Remember that mistakes of the past do not define you, they refine you. You are merely a child of God that He is molding for a special purpose.

    Forgive yourself of your mistakes. Let them humble you to help others.

    Remember who you are, remember the atonement, remember how you feel when you feel the Savior’s love.

    You are doing so well, and don’t ever give up.

  7. Julie

    There are a lot of people out there with similar life situations and so even though at times we feel so alone we truly are not. Around this special time of Easter that just past I am reminded that not only others through past mistakes etc., but our Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered all things so he could succor us and take our burdens upon him.

    I too have made several mistakes that are contrary to the Mormon values and am not proud of those choices. I still, being several years since repenting and making those choices, have my days were I feel guilt from those choices and wish I’d never done them. However, I am humbled by those experiences and it has taught me how to recognize and help others in similar situations. I am a mother of very young children and hope that through those choices I can be an even better mother to my children. I hope that I can teach them the ways of truth and light and hopefully they won’t experience the awful guilt that comes from serious transgression. Although, I understand we each have free agency and will therefore make choices for ourselves. All we can really do is LOVE, SUPPORT, and PRAY for those who we love and those who need it. I too agree with the other posters here that say how much love they immediately felt for you and how much they want you to understand where you are coming from. There is hope after bad choices. There will always be a loving Father in Heaven watching over you and wanting to bless you! Keep up the good work and you will continue to feel His love and blessings. And always remember that you truly are a divine daughter of our Heavenly Father. I wished I would have remembered that throughout my teenage years but I honestly didn’t believe I was worth anything. Now I know different and am so greatful that the Savior came and found one of his lost!!
    Julie

  8. backandthen

    Dear Confused,

    Not only are you loved but you are going to find this out for yourself soon and every time you’ll need it in your life.
    I am sorry if what I say sounds confusing too. Please accept my apology as English is not my first language and if my grammar is ok my way to word things may not be as clear as I wish.

    Maybe I should not say this, maybe someday I’ll regret those words but I hate how sometimes leaders of the church bring to you “repentance” as something you must do to be aware of how little you are compared to the magnificence of God.
    Something tells me that you already feel so tiny that you probably don’t feel worthy.
    Sorry to put it this way but this is exactly how Lucifer wants you to feel. To me the beauty of repentance is not about doing away with your pride (cause I doubt there is much of it in your situation) but about understanding fully what lead you to make the choices you have made. To acknowledge what was your responsibility and what was not. And you know what? You had the right to do everything you have done because there is something called the atonement that you have a unique chance to experience and understand. I am not encouraging you to do things that will lead you to even more confusion just for the sake/fun of atonement :P what I am saying is that you have a chance to get a knowledge that some people preach about all their life and never know for themselves.
    I have been there and done that (and even worse) and yes the first step and the best thing is just to open to our heavenly Father about how you feel. There is nothing that He wants more right now than to hear from you. Ask Him to feel his love, ask Him anything, tell Him about anything you want to talk about and when you have nothing really to share and feel empty then just tell Him that you have nothing to share and feel empty.
    When you are ready He will help you take the next steps you need to take in your life. He is the only one you can really trust not to rush you and to help you truly the way you need to be helped.

    I kind of envy you because I know how hard this time is but I know what a wonderful experience you have the opportunity to have (that I had too)and sometimes I wish I could go through this again. But then I quickly remember that this, beside being stupid, would take me to re-do things that I promised I would never do again and I just don’t want to do again anyway.

    I know you feel fragile right now and you probably are but you are just about to burst out as a powerful and wise young woman that I wish I was around to love.
    When this is over you’ll understand what nobody can explain properly with human words: how the atonement is not so much about repenting as it is about to heal from what hurts us so bad that we are lead the wrong way (and I am still being so far from making it clear that it is wrong).

    Love you

    Gwennaëlle

    PS: I know this must be even more confusing compared to what we are usually taught in the church, please just trust me. Repentance is not about pain, it is a beautiful thing about love. Trust me and try it. Repentance is about tasting God’s love, not his wrath.
    Oh wait….It seems that I am not the only one trying to convince you of what I wrote :)

  9. bink

    Haley,

    What beautiful responses, and what amazing people who already love you, regardless of the mistakes in your life. We all make mistakes. We all do things that we know we shouldn’t. Of course Heavenly Father and Mother want you. They love you and would never turn you away. They are waiting for you to turn to them and ask for help.

    Joanna’s response was about perfect. I can’t really think of anything I would like to add except my own love and support.

    Know that you’re progression will not be straight and easy. You will hit more walls, you will have some days in your life that will still be hard. Your parents still love you, and it will take time and patience for them to grow together. It’s okay to have down days, it’s okay if you take two steps forward and one step back. The key is to keep trying.

    Continue to pray like Joanna suggested, I too have had powerful experiences praying just the way she described. Heavenly Father wants to hear your voice and exactly how you feel so he can help you to heel.

    You are a great and powerful daughter of God.

  10. Bilbo

    Dear Confused,

    Your message really touched my heart and made me want to give you a giant hug. I wish we could go for a long walk and just talk about life right now. Since I can’t see you and talk to you…I’ll just say a few things. Know that you are of worth. Know that you have something special to offer this world and that there are people around you who care about you and love you. Although I haven’t been through the same things you have, I know life can be dark and difficult at times. My experience has shown me that these times pass–I know it will for you. Hang on through these tough times because things will get better. Please don’t let yourself be burdened with guilt–you are loved no matter what. Take care of yourself.

    xoxoxo

    Bilbo

  11. Joshua

    The VERY first thing you need to do is put yourself in a place where you can truly believe that your Heavenly Father loves you. You need to understand that on an emotional level, and getting to that point may be the longest stretch of your journey back into the arms of Heavenly Father.

    Start by kneeling down and telling your Father in Heaven exactly how you feel. Ask him sincerely to help you feel his Love for you. I know that’s scary because of how you’re feeling right now, but if you exercise just that little bit of faith, I promise you that you can begin the process of healing.

    Don’t forget that Jesus Christ died for you. He suffered unimaginable pain so that you would not have to. He didn’t just pave the way for you to be forgiven of your sins, but also so that He can heal you from all your pain, shortcoming, and confusion. He wants you to be happy, not just in the next life but right now too. And the Atonement can help you become happy.

    If you ever feel you’re not worthy of God’s love, that is a cleverly disguised lie. NEVER listen to it! I know with absolute confidence that if Jesus were here right now He would want to express to you how precious you are to Him. I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to go through! But if you turn to Christ, He will make all of this work to make you into a stronger person, capable of great things and great love. You’re going to be okay ^_^

    Matthew 11:28-30
    Alma 7:11-12
    Isaiah 43:2

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