A little about Jennifer Tuttle: We asked Jennifer a couple of questions, see below.
A. Since the age of 13 I knew that I wanted to be a middle school math teacher. I also knew that I wanted to be the kind of woman that had a positive impact on those around me. I wanted to be a force for good.
Here is Jennifer’s letter to her younger self:
Dear my 17 year-old self,
You are wide-eyed and full of hope for the future. You are committed to ideals and your love sweet Jesus. You always stay true to yourself with seemingly endless confidence, but we both know that you wonder if staying so true to yourself has cost you. You fear that others think you are weird. You feel so out of place in a community that doesn’t value diversity and intellectualism, ideals that you are committed to. You dream of being a teacher that will help to lift minds and souls, and in turn alter the world for the better. You are at war with your mother, desperately trying to help her see who you really are. You are hopeful and fearful. You want desperately to see this town behind you through a rearview, but crave the security and relationships of the small town where you are known.
If I could talk to you from now, at 31, here a few things I want you to know. Your dreams will come true, most of them, maybe not all of them. You’re going to have a good life. Your desire to follow your heart and be true to you will become your hallmark. It does make you different, but as you come to realize what makes you different is what makes you special. Your hope for the children and for our future will be tested and tried. Cling to it. It’s what makes you withstand the winds of public education. Keep yearning to better know Jesus. He will be your rock through it all. You will have times when you feel utterly, desperately alone. Cling to Jesus. He will walk you through it. He will bless you with love, maybe not the kind you imagine, but abundant , abundant love. You are putting this community in the rearview. When you go to college in the fall you’re not coming back. Your heart belongs in a different place and that’s okay. You’ll create a sense of community there that you felt in the small town. Also, go easy on mom. She is your best friend and biggest advocate. You will realize how desperately you need her in a few months. As you mature you’ll come to know that you would feel more understood if you spent some time trying to understand her. Like her, you will be a strong, smart, fearless woman. She is your best role model for who God has called you to be. Go easy on her. Last, let’s talk about men. In two years you’ll meet a man you think you love. You’ll fall hard, and he won’t. In time, you will realize that God knew what he was doing all along. He’s not a match for you, not even good for you. You are good natured and forgiving. Steer clear of the bad boys which you have a tendency to want to save. They only want to take from you. Set your sights on becoming the kind of woman who seeks after God’s heart. The world will tell you that you are not enough without a husband. Age and wisdom will teach you that you are more than enough with or without a husband. Love with your heart wide open, even when you get hurt. Keep your heart open. Be brave sweet girl, be brave. It’s going to be a good ride.
Your 31 year old self