First things first: You will grow to appreciate your name. Your mother didn’t know it meant “sorrow” when she named you, and one day you’ll realize that and get over it. And also? If people don’t understand you when you tell them your real name, if they ask you to repeat it five times before they get it, just go with it. Repeat it until they get it. They’ll get it. Many people will mispronounce it. They’ll add an extra “r’ in the middle. But for the most part, people will get it.
Over time, people will tell you your name is beautiful. Eventually, you will agree with them, and you will thank your mother for naming you Deidra, even if she did name you after a character in a soap opera. If you want to buy something with your name on it (and you won’t) you’ll have to have it custom-made. Things could be worse.
You’ll make it through the years in that private Christian school, I promise. All these years later I can’t tell you whether or not it impacts the choices you will make later on, or whether or not it contributes to your acceptance at Michigan State (Go Spartans! Yes, you get in! And…you graduate!). But what I do know is that Renee will be your friend for life.
Right now, God has Renee in your life to call you every morning with a prayer, or a bible verse, or just a few words of encouragement, so you can make your way out the door and drive yourself to school (yes, you actually get your driver’s license this year!). She calls each morning because she knows first-hand how hard it is to be the only black girl in your entire grade. You’ll be in each other’s weddings, and you’ll raise your children together, even though you will live miles apart from each other. And Renee will never stop encouraging you. Not ever. You should know that not everyone gets to have a friend like Renee, and you should be sure she knows how much you love her. Life will kick her in the teeth a few times more than she deserves and every time, she will come out stronger and more in love with Jesus. She’s a conquerer.
You probably got distracted a few sentences back where I mentioned weddings and children. Hard to believe, right? At the private Christian school, you’ll meet Debbie, and she will twist your arm and make you go to the Commodores concert two days after graduation. It will be two days after you tell her you’re done with men and that you’re going to college to make your fortune so you can live in a penthouse in New York City.
You won’t want to go to the Commodores concert. But you’ll go. And you’ll be glad you did because that’s where you’ll meet H. He’s not the guy you thought you’d marry. He breaks all the rules. The first few years will be rough, but you’ll stick it out, you’ll do the work, you’ll go to counseling, and being married to H will be the best thing that ever happens to you. Except, of course, for Jesus.
After H, the very next best thing is your two children. They are awesome. Not perfect. But awesome.
I hate to mention this part but, you’re going to be married to a pastor. I know you don’t believe me and if I were you I wouldn’t believe me either. Wait! I am you. So, just forget that part for now. You’ll figure it out.
You won’t always be so shy. You’ll jump out of an airplane. You’ll speak in front of large groups of people. One day you will find your voice, and those years as the only black girl in your class will pay off when you move to Nebraska. Yes. Nebraska. Don’t ask.
Nebraska will rake you over the coals. It will. You will need to see a counselor. Go. Don’t be ashamed. Go, and sit on the leather couch and hold that pillow to your chest and say all the things you need to say. You will also need to take anti-depressants in Nebraska. Take them. Trust me on this one.
Even in Nebraska, Renee will contact you at just the right times. She’ll send you texts (you will LOVE technology when you’re older) and she’ll post messages for you on this new thing called Facebook (don’t be so resistant to the Timeline). Those messages from Renee will be just like the early morning phone calls you get from her before you go to school each day and you’ll think God chose her just for you. He did.
You won’t believe it at first. You’ll dig in your heels and fold your arms and ask God not to send you into the hard places of life. But God is right there in the middle of the hard places. God is in the desert. God is in the dark days. God will never take His eye off you. And when you let Him lead you to places you don’t want to go, you’ll find Him right there. Closer than you ever imagined.