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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

To The High School Grad That Was Me...

Dear You,
 Ten years ago on this day you walked across the stage to receive your high school diploma, knowing that you were stepping from one chapter of your life into a new one, yet having no idea how drastically your young life would be altered...or how radical Grace would surprise your soul.
 As you sat there and listened to your class speaker, you wondered where the path would go from here. He spoke of being an investment in God's kingdom, of being His open letter to the world...but deep inside, you battled anger. You craved answers to what authentic belief looked like. You wondered what such a life of purpose actually looked like.
 You desperately wanted to belong, to feel loved deeply beyond your wildest dreams, to be captivated by a grace that would not let you go. But yet, you felt alone. So many people sitting there behind you, so much happiness surrounding you. But at your deepest, your questions drove you to uncertainty and doubt. Your God, whom you said you believed, was a distant deity that had nothing to do with your personal, everyday living.
 In your graduation speech, you spoke of the purpose of education being to enable one to know God. Oddly enough, you had yet to experience the school of adversity where God would prove your unfaithfulness and His boundless love in ways that would one day blow your mind.

 You asked for Him to guide you...but little did you know that His direction would lead to the places that would bring you to the end of yourself and reveal your inability to do life on your own. Amidst all of the well-wishes of others for a bright future, you would be asked to endure the dashing of such dreams in order for you to gain a heart for what He wanted for you.
 God would ask so many hard things in the years that would follow. He would ask you to give up things that you held dear, to let go of people who, at the time, you thought you'd never lose. Tight-clenched fists would often be your go-to reaction when what God was really after was an open heart and open hands. Slowly, He would prove to you that you had nothing of yourself to offer the world, except what only He could give and do through you. In His love, God would walk you through hospitals, doctors offices, death, sadness, grief, loss, and numerous dark nights of the soul in order to show you that He is good and you are always loved, even when you are tempted to least believe that. That He's still sovereign and merciful, even if the storms of life threaten to throw you right overboard.
 Over time, you would come to see that His greatest demonstration of love to you isn't to give you what you want, but instead to cross your desires so that you'd come to want what He wants. That this life isn't about your comfort but rather your sanctification and continued holiness, and the person whose life makes a difference isn't the one whose been immune to suffering but actually the one whose walked through the greatest pain and still lives life big for the Savior.
 In the years since you celebrated your academic accomplishments, you would glimpse the reality of the brevity of life...coupled with the simple fact that you knew little. That this life isn't guaranteed and that tomorrow isn't promised. That the only sure thing is to place faith in the hands of the Savior and trust Him for all the uncertainties. That being open to Grace is what opens one to life and therefore to God. And this truth produces hope in the worst of times.
You could've never foreseen that you would find yourself meeting people and experiencing things you would never have even dreamt of at the time. That God would bring other kindred souls into your life who would prove His unconditional love to you on a daily basis. That your soul which had such difficulty trusting would one day be able to embrace other's hearts and be known at deeper levels than you thought you could ever let yourself do.
You never would've seen that your story would be the key to openness and that God would use it to lead others to the Light you once ran from yourself.
 I so much wish I could sit you down old self and tell you just how ridiculously good a life following God really is. I wish I could tell you that letting go, while painful and hard, is honestly the only way to truly find purpose in the twist and turns of life.
 Ten years you are: you're sharing your inner struggles with the world, you're living life big as you watch God use you to point others to the Savior. You've made some amazing friends who invest of their flawed but loving hearts to speak life to your soul every day. You're working in places with people that you would've never guessed but it feels oh, so right now that you're here...because He's led the way. And it's His story anyway.
  A decade ago, you quoted John Newton's autobiography in your speech, meaning every word but not completely grasping just how true they would become to you in the years to come. But, as with any truth worth holding onto, those words are still just as pertinent to you today...and yes...they do mean so much more now than ever before!
 Perhaps the best way to remember this incredible ten-year journey is to bring these words to mind again and remind yourself that God never left your side, even in the worst times, and that He continued to purpose your heart and to teach you. That He broke you in order to fix you because He loved you.
 True now as ever...

"I...have found that there is no effectual teacher but God...I am still a learner, and the Lord still condescends to teach me. I have attained but very little, but I trust in Him to carry on His work in my soul, and by His grace and providence to increase my knowledge of Him, and of myself...My desire to serve the Lord is not is sufficient that He knows how to dispose of me, and that He both can and will do what is best. To Him I command myself. I trust that His will and my true interest are inseparable. To His name be glory."

And so, dear You, be thankful for the journey. Because these ten years have been hard but still amazingly good. You've come so far, sweet girl. Keep going. Keep believing. Keep looking up. Because you're chosen and loved beyond anything you'll ever know. And that's enough.