I don't know that they could have started out with a more difficult assignment, honestly.
I don't know what I would tell my childhood self, if I had the chance. Anything I could tell Little Me would not change my circumstances. And my circumstances were difficult. I most definitely don't want to turn this post into a pity party for myself, but I have to tell you, since we're on the subject- my childhood was not fun.
I definitely could have had it a lot worse, and I know that. I did not live in an abusive household. I was not homeless. I didn't have cancer or some other life-threatening disease. And my parents didn't split up.
But I was unpopular, from kindergarten all the way through high school, pretty much (though at the end there I did have a few friends.) I was bullied at multiple schools. My family didn't have much money. I didn't go hungry, but most of my clothes were hand-me-downs from my mom (shoes from my cousin, since I couldn't wear her clothes) or school uniforms. I'm pretty sure I went a few years without even owning a pair of jeans. I didn't feel pressure to own popular clothing brands, but I know I definitely got made fun of for the old clothes I did own.
I got picked on a lot. And I was afraid a lot. My anxiety disorder didn't get diagnosed until right before I was in 5th grade. And a diagnosis didn't mean an end to my issues- it just meant we knew what they were called. They still set me apart and still made me miserable at times. And I didn't ever really feel close to anyone. I have already said on this blog that while my mom and I are really close now and very good friends, we did not get along very well when I still lived in my parents' house. We fought a lot. Part of it came from being in close proximity (we have very similar personalities), and part of it was just immaturity on my part. But I went a long, long time without a confidante, someone to share with. I probably had people who were willing to pray for me, but I didn't know how to ask.
I can't say that my childhood self would believe this message, but if I had the opportunity, I guess I would tell Little Me this: you have worth. You have value. You are loved. Life may be hard sometimes, but you're still alive, and it's ok.
I guess the moral of the story is this: my experiences and circumstances growing up have made me who I am today, and I turned out ok. They also made me very empathetic to some of the problems our sponsor kids face. While I did not live in the same kind of poverty they did, poverty makes you feel worthless and discouraged. Our kids value our letters because it's so important to them to know that someone cares, and is listening, and is praying for them. That someone half a world away loves them. And it's real love; how else can you love someone you've never met, if it's not genuine?
Below you will see some pictures of kids who have been waiting a very long time for sponsors- over a year. Will you be the one to encourage them, to love them, to show them they have worth and value?
Himanshu is 7 years old. He lives in India.
Inda is 7 years old. She lives in Indonesia.
Anderson is 5 years old. He lives in the Dominican Republic.
Ivy is 8 years old. She lives in Ghana.