So, I'm sitting here at Starbuck's, listening to music and finishing up a letter of recommendation for one of you beautiful ladies and can't help but reflect over the last three years that I've had the privilege of knowing you all.
I'm so thankful for the opportunity I've had to be a part of your lives these last years. Thank you for letting me in. I originally wanted to be a youth leader so I could invest in the lives of teenagers, but I didn't realize then the impact that you would have on me. I think of all that you ladies have been through in these years and how much I've learned from you. I've grown right alongside you as I've watched your lives unfold. You've endured heartache and trials that have sometimes left you completely broken, but each one of you have gotten back and kept moving forward. Life is messy; you know that better than anyone, but it is also so wonderfully beautiful.
Some of you have been walking in the desert for so long now, but I'm glad for the glimpses of hope that are breaking through. I'm so proud of each of you for enduring and pray that this summer before college brings you green pastures to rest awhile. I pray that college will be a dynamic time of growth as you learn new things, explore new ideas, and form new relationships. It won't always be easy, that we know for certain, but from where you've come, you know that God somehow gives you the strength to get through whatever comes your way. And not just get through it, but to THRIVE.
One of the greatest gifts that I think God has given us as human beings is sign posts of beauty and yearning that make us feel the full impact of being human and awaken in us this unquenchable desire for Him. Sometimes we get confused by this thirst and it sends us down a rabbit trail of searching to fill it in things that don't satisfy. I pray that these times for you will be few and far between; they will always end in pain. Instead, I pray when you encounter these sign posts, they cause you to press hard into your Creator, the only one who will satisfy.
In my life, one of the major sign posts has been music. I so clearly remember graduating from high school myself. One of my best friends made our close-knit group four CDs to help us through our first time away from home and each other. I played those songs on repeat for months. They brought me comfort and closeness to God in ways that nothing else could. I remember one of my favorites was Dixie Chick's Wide Open Spaces. It's silly, I know, and it's not a "Christian" song, but for my eighteen year old self, it was a prayer, an anthem, an awakening to a yearning that screamed, "It's yours God, it's all yours. I know the high stakes, have your way!"
Throughout my life I've had a soundtrack playing in the background. Now I dedicate a song to you, lovely ladies, as you learn to navigate these next steps. It's not a Christian song, and yes, it's full on cheesy but it's my prayer for you as you go. When life gets too overwhelming and serious and you just need a moment, crank it up and let yourself dance and sing loudly, knowing that you will make it through. When I hear it, I will think of you, brave girls, and I hope when you hear it, you will remember all those back home that love you. But mostly, I hope it awakens in you a longing that you don't even understand that leads you to the heart of your Heavenly Father who loves you, cherishes you, and empowers you to be all that he created you to be.
Much love to you girls.