How often I have seen your eyes light up as we've shared moments of connection, realizing that neither of us was alone in the things that weighed on our hearts. We talked about anything and everything; the way watching water rippling over the lake was so calming, the bugs that made us shudder, how scared we were as we looked at all the changes life was about to bring us, how it pained us that we found it so hard to constantly follow the Lord in being the woman he was calling us to be. We've laughed, we've cried, we've been uncomfortable together, and shared things many other friends will never get to fully know about us.
You'll never know just how honored I was each time you sought me out, wanting me to be the first person to know all the big things happening in your life... or the deep things tugging on your soul. And you'll never know how much I hurt for you every time you fell into your discouragement once again. And I watched you retreat again within that shell that you thought nobody could hurt you in, when unconsciously you were keeping that pain so close to your heart that it consumed you.
You didn't know how much I knew. You didn't know that when you told me I would be the first one to know about this, I'd already known for two years and been praying for the Lord to bring healing and wisdom to your heart as you dealt with the situation. How could you know that that one word you used without thinking had opened my eyes to an entire facet of your life when I placed it next to thing you had laughed off just minutes before so that those around us would never suspect?
You couldn't know how my heart was breaking as I watched you make the mistakes you knew where wrong, and yet you felt you had no other choice to make with the way your life was going, and the way it weighed you down. That each time I heard that you had cried yet again, I cried with you. How often I wanted to be able to give you a hug, and tell you that I was there for you, and I knew the Lord was using your life even when you couldn't see it, and wouldn't you please stop feeling like you were a useless, hopeless young woman, because no matter what you might be alone, the Lord's might is seen most beautifully in weakness, and all He asked was you trust him.
Because we're all sinners. And the very fact that you truly cared whether you were following the Lord or not told me that He was working in your heart, with a plan and purpose so much bigger than your own. You were not hopeless, because your hope came from him, even when its light made you despise your own sin more. You are made useful by that beautiful sense of care that you give to everyone around you, by the love that overflows from your heart of love for Christ. The very pain you experience makes you so tender of others, and seeing it, I feel that it is almost worth it, though I hate that it hurts you.
But I couldn't tell you these things. You didn't know how much I suspected, until you were on the other side and ready to talk about it, admitting that you had needed encouragement, but could not ask for it from such a raw heart. Each time it happened, I berated myself for not reaching out in the moment... but how could I touch something so delicate without permission? And you'd let on that I was intimidating. That I was a biblical role model to you, but that that very fact made you afraid to show me your sins and struggles. That even though you knew I would never shy away from you because of them, you felt as if it opened up a side of you that someone like me should never see.
You didn't know that it was your struggle against these things, that fierce holding onto the things of the Lord, that made me admire you so much. It may have been crushing to know that you were dealing with this and there was nothing I could do -sometimes I wished I didn't feel so responsible. But the way you bravely moved on, and never gave up even when things felt stagnant and worthless, the way you turned back to the Lord with true joy each time you awakened to the fact that your discouragement had caused you to push his love aside, it warmed my heart every time, whether you knew I noticed or not.
You thought I was the one who was "the perfect daughter", and that you were the one lucky to call me friend. But did you know that when you stepped out of your comfort zone to take that ministry opportunity the Lord gave you, I was proud of you and looked up to you, knowing how hard it would be for me? Did you know that when you sent me that email, the words were just the ones the Lord was using to bring me out of my own valley? That when you sat down with my siblings to color with them, it struck me as one of the most inspiring and beautiful things I'd ever seen a young girl do? And that each time I saw your name in my mail box or my email list, my heart was touched before I'd even opened it, just because you'd thought enough of me that you'd say even a simple hello? How much did you suspect that I felt myself a failure too- that I let uncertainty hold me back from doing what was right, and that I refused to follow through on impulses to help others because I was afraid of the outcome, afraid of being seen as judgemental, afraid of being misunderstood, afraid of being seen as someone who had the answers to something I had never experienced. And how could you know that the two months I went without replying to you was because I was terrified of hurting you when you were in such a vulnerable state, and not because you disgusted me with your confessions of natural struggles of a Christian still being purged of the flesh?
Because of these things you by turn came to me for counsel and pushed me away. And I by turns cried that you were going through this, and cried that we were estranged again; and always, I prayed you would find peace, even when my heart was too full to form totally complete thoughts.
And now, even if you have gone to a path that I cannot follow with a good conscience before God; or if you can never allow me to be that close friend that I once was from fear that I'll not understand; or if things become better from here on out, and the Lord uses all of this to prove our friendship, and more importantly, our relationship to HIM through himself; I'm still honored to have held such a place in your life, my friend. I'm still struggling to be the woman God has called me to be. And I still pray that He would lead you to perfect peace relying on Him, because I know that heart cry that yearns to be satisfied by the one and only fulfillment of all our needs, even when we lose sight of where it lies. And because I believe that He who has begun a good work in you, will not fail to complete it on that last day.
Love in our Savior,
This letter is written not to one girl, but to all of the girls I have walked through the valley with. There are thoughts from each circumstance mingled within these paragraphs... but the heart of each is the same. To those friends who have shunned that joy the Lord could give you -my heart pleads with God that he will show you His grace before you make those choices you will regret for the rest of your life. To those friends who ave already made those choices.... there is no sin so deep, that His grace is not deeper still. Don't doubt His truth and His kindness. There is still room in His kingdom for another testimony to the riches of redemption. And to those friends who have fought the good fight against all discouargement, and have grown stronger instead of turning their back completely on that hope they have had held out to them... the beauty from ashes is obvious. I've seen you mature and settle in your faith even when all you know is that the waves are constantly pushing you under. Because I've seen other friends walk away, and it broke my heart. But you, you are a constant encouraging inspiration.
And no matter where you are in this journey, I am always, always, here for you. Not to force you to let me in... but to let you know that I'll never turn my back on you just because you need a shoulder to cry on to make the burden a little easier to leave behind. Not to make everything right, because only the Lord can do that for you... but to pray with you through the struggle. It hurts to hurt for you; but it hurts so much more to know that the Lord has put me here for this purpose, and we're too afraid to admit that we haven't arrived at complete perfection to be able to let Him accomplish His work in us <3.