There’s a song by Thomas Rhett called “Sixteen” and the lyrics tell the story of a young man always waiting and wanting to be older. In his mind, the next milestone will be the one where life is really sweet. I feel like it’s a fairly common longing for most kids as they are growing up; at least it was for me and my friends. “Sixteen will be great because I can drive!” or “Eighteen is where it’s at because I’m an adult!” and “When I’m twenty-one I can drink legally!” Yet, when we get there, we always find it to be a little less sparkly than we expected and that there’s always more road ahead, tempting us to believe that “ahead” is where life will really start.
My daughter is sixteen today. It feels big and small at the same time. It feels big because she will soon have her driver’s license and be out in the world taking roads that I’m not on with her. I feels big because I can remember her first day of kindergarten in bright and vivid detail but I realize that in a little over two years she will head off to college. And yet it feels small because she’s still my baby girl who will snuggle on the couch with me and talk to me about friend drama and bake cookies with me. And it feels small because sometimes I feel like sixteen was only a moment ago for me. I have memories so clear and wonderful that it seems strange to think they took place so long ago.
I texted a few of my life-long-friends this morning, thanking them for the old memories, but also noted that I wouldn’t do it again for anything. Sixteen is wild and fun and fast and full but also, sixteen is hard. I fell in love and had my heart broken at sixteen. I was learning the value of friendship and people who stuck by their word. I learned all sorts of lessons at sixteen that were necessary for the life God was preparing for me. And that life has also been wild and fun and fast and full.
And then, as if the universe was rolling along with my morning of nostalgia, the radio played the Florida-Georgia Line and Tim McGraw song “May We All.” It’s one of my favorites.
Every time I hear that song I tell my kids that it’s basically the story of how I grew up. It’s the musical version of every teenager’s life who was raised in Southern Illinois in the 1980s and ’90s. And every time I tell them this fact, I get a little misty-eyed thinking of how it feels like yesterday and also a million years ago.
I’ve said thousands and thousands of prayers for my girl as she has been growing up. I think my hopes and dreams for her are, for the most part, the same as those most parents have for their children. I have simple prayers for her that are based on faith and love.
I hope she always knows the love of her Savior, Jesus Christ. I want her to live a life full of blessings and to be grateful for the joys He has given her. I want her to be honest, kind, and generous with her love. I pray for her to chase the dreams God has planted in her heart.
I pray that if God has a husband planned for her, that he would know and love Jesus and want to lead their family in truth and love. And I pray that he would be loyal to her forever and ever and never break her heart.
I hope she is surrounded by friends and family who love her and celebrate all the beauty God has placed inside of her. And I hope those people bake her cakes and make celebratory toasts to her.
I pray for her to always believe and trust that God’s plan for her is far better than anything this world would ever have to offer and that she always listens for the still, quiet voice of His Spirit to lead her where her imagination could never take her. And I hope she will know in the deepest places of her soul that there is nothing ahead or down the road any more exciting or thrilling than where God will lead.
Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl. May we all have the opportunity to celebrate you for many years to come!