Friday, April 29, 2016

Sixteen Was

Sixteen was waking up feeling like I could take on the world.

Sixteen was dreaming about the future that I was sure would happen.

Sixteen was loosing that future and finding a better one.

Sixteen was taking one step forward.

Sixteen was watching Youtube videos and thinking "I could do that."

Sixteen was listening to Tori Kelly.

Sixteen was living my dream of seeing Tori Kelly live.

Sixteen was loosing friends.

Sixteen was finding better friends.

Sixteen was falling on my knees because I had nowhere else to go.

Sixteen was crying and hurt. And laughter and mercy.

Sixteen was finding genuine confidence.

Sixteen was skater skirts and flower crowns.

Sixteen was heartbreak.

Sixteen was joy anyway.

Sixteen was a little bit brave.

Seventeen is a mystery.

I can't wait to see what it holds.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Unexpected Mercy

We laughed until our sides hurt and tears came to our eyes. At this point, we weren't even laughing about the original joke. After ten minutes, it was a miracle we even had breath left. And yet we kept going. And that was just ten minutes out of a six day trip.

I almost didn't go to that tournament. My heart was burning from a deep rejection. I was going through the motions, wishing for winter's months to come to an end. Spring felt decades away. I wished I were graduating this year instead of next. I wished I could start over with an entirely new group of people. I wished for the hurt to go away. But things hardly ever go as I wish them to.

My fragile glass heart was broken, and the shards cut my soul. I held onto hope, but that hope was just a thread that I clutched as I walked in the dark, looking for a way out.

When I deal with things, I deal with things on my own. Much of the time, this is stupid. Closing yourself off to Youtube videos and books isn't actually as conducive to healing as I'd like to believe.

Two months ago, I traveled to a tournament with my friends (and some people who became my friends). I was expecting to be as miserable there as I had been for the last several months. At the last minute I thought about backing out. The only reason I did go was because I'd made a commitment to my debate partner to be there.

I was still hurting when I drove to my friend's house in the rain that Tuesday morning. For the first half of the day I thought of the friends I had lost and the friends I was losing, wondering if I'd end up with no friends at all. I was expecting to find more loneliness. I found laughter.

In our deepest hurts, God brings mercy.

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4) he didn't fix all her problems, he didn't take away her broken heart. He offered mercy. He offered living water. Living water that didn't bring immediate healing, but gradually mended her soul.

In the midst of my 8 month long hurt, God brought mercy. In the shards of my broken heart, the laughter of my friends reminded me that there was happiness at the end of my long walk of hope. In a basement and on car rides and in Jason's Deli, I was reminded that God shows up in small places. Just as He is in the Grand Canyon and in miraculous physical healings, He is in the laughter of friends.

God rarely gives us what we want because He wants to give us what's best. What I wanted at the moment wouldn't have healed me. It wouldn't have lasted. While I can see that now, I couldn't see it as I prepared to go to Missouri two months ago.

I lost a lot of friends, but looking back I can see that God was preparing me for better relationships. Not just in that car on the Oklahoma turnpike, but on Wednesday and Sunday nights at my two (very) different youth groups, in the day to day with my family members. In the little moments, mercy has slipped through the cracks, creating a more beautiful picture than I could've dreamed of at the point of impact in January.

Laughing for 20 minutes straight with my friends, watching Family Feud with my mom, taking pictures of tulips with my dad, dancing around to Silly Songs With Larry with my siblings. God shows up. Mercy is poured or dripped all around, not making any sense until the other side is reached. And when that other side is reached, redemption has painted a better picture than I could dream.

I went to Kansas City with those same people this month. I came into it happier than I had two month prior. As we got closer to each other, my hope and joy increased. Though we all may be dealing with our own individual hurts, we have the same hope, the same mercy: Christ Jesus.

In our moments of brokenness, Christ fills the cracks with little moments of mercy. In our moments of brokenness, Christ offers the chance to live gracefully

Living gracefully gives us the courage to laugh.

Little moments of mercy give little moments of brave.

And that's what's up.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

To My Friends Who are Graduating

I denied it at the beginning of this year. I didn't want to believe it. But now that it's April, I can't get away from it. You're graduating. You're done. You're going off to college and leaving behind the ridiculousness of high school.

Remember when we thought this day would never come? The days of saying, "psh, I don't need to worry about college because that is literally forever away," were replaced with days of saying "omigosh college applications essays SAT ACT why didn't I do this when I was a sophomore???" Suddenly you had to worry about senior pictures and graduation parties and senior trips and senior prom and being old and all that other senior stuff. And you didn't even get cheaper pancakes at IHOP.

When I think back four years, to when you were a freshman and I was in 8th grade (the difference didn't matter because we were homeschooled), it's such a different picture from the one I see when I open my eyes. We tell embarrassing stories from the last few years, barely believing we're the same people who did those stupid things--but at the same time knowing many similar moments will probably happen in the near future.

You're different now than how you were then. You're closer to God, know more about math you'll use on the SAT and then drop forever, and wiser about the people around you. But in so many ways, you're the same. You still stay hilarious things that I'll never let you live down, and you still bring up that time (or twenty) I made a fool of myself in front of the boy I liked.

I know you're not sure whether or not you can handle what's ahead of you, but I also know who's going with you. No, I'm not going to get in your suitcase and go off with you to college. Although if you're down for that I'm totally down for that.

Anyway. I know you can take on the future because you're not doing it alone. God will work through your life in ways you can't dream of. Even if you don't go where you expect, the Lord knows exactly where you are and He's going to use each and every situation to grow you.

On top of that, God has put people in your life to encourage you, challenge you, and be there for you (like me hi). Don't be afraid to turn to those people when you need to, because they want to be there for you (again like me hello). Don't push people away because you think you have to be all independent now. Because you don't. You still need others, and you always will.

When you're afraid of losing your friends to time and distance, trust that God will preserve the relationships you need. And remember, you'll always have your family. When you think of a friend you haven't talked to in awhile, shoot them a text. I promise, it won't be an annoyance (unless they're at church and haven't turned their ringer off but that's not your fault).

When you come back home for breaks, spend time with family and old friends. Tell them your crazy stories and your awesome stories. When you go back to school that Monday, tell your new friends stories about your weirdo friends from high school.

Tell your friends that you're grateful for their friendship. Because you are. Send your old debate partner a text. Hand write a letter to that girl who was so encouraging to you these last few years. Tell your best friends how proud of them you are. Speaking of...

I'm proud of you. I'm proud of the person you've become and are becoming. Your love for God and for others is humbling to me.

Thank you for being my friend, for years and months and days. Thanks for telling me what I needed to hear. Thanks for listening to my stories for the tenth time. Thanks for laughing at the dumb stuff I say. Thanks for saying dumb things so I feel less dumb when I say dumb things.

You're graduating, and that's what's up. I'll bring the tissues.


ps. if you need me I'll be crying in the bathroom because you're graduaattinnng D: D: