Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, Team Rector of St Luke in the City, Liverpool, and author of The Teenage Prayer Experiment Notebook, was one of eight people who sent a message back in time as part of The Church Times' current series on Church & Youth:
First, let me assure you that life gets better and better. Looking back, I can see both how bullied you are, and how defensive and prickly you can be in return. Try not to worry so much about what people think about you. Be yourself, and be confident. You look at photos of yourself now and squirm, but I look back at them and think how beautiful you are.
Enjoy the time you have now to read, act, write poetry, and cycle around the countryside. I can tell you that you will end up achieving all your childhood ambitions by the time you’re my age (except the one about becoming an actress, I’m afraid).
But let me tell you the one thing that I am really embarrassed about now, and that’s how rude and dismissive I was at your age about people of faith. You know how sarcastic you are about the school Christian Union? I’m really sorry, but you’re going to have to eat your words in the future. God is real. Remember that time in the snow, when you were little, when you knelt in awe at the sheer beauty of it? That’s what faith is like, not the rather dreary list of rules you set up as a straw man to have a dig at.
I’d re-read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe if I were you. I know how annoyed you were when you discovered it was a Christian allegory, but re-read it and try to grasp the beauty of that mystery of the Old Magic, and the fleeting glimpses of Aslan, as something you’re going to have the wonder and awe of knowing for yourself — about six years from now.