When I was young, I was meticulous about writing thank you notes and preparing thoughtful gifts. I often said that the blank side of the card was meant to be filled, regardless of the occasion, and I always filled it! It was something I prided myself in, and something I miss in the older me. The me that gets caught up in kids, and keeping house, and projects, and the rest of life nowadays. The me that does too much and runs late and can't seem to catch up. And then important parts of my life pass by, gone before I did a good enough job of communicating how much I appreciated them. I didn't write the thank you notes when I should have, even though I thought of it often.
Even this... this ridiculous cyber thank you feels cheapened somehow. But I knew if I tried to write it all on a card, it would be covered in white out and scratches. Tears and coffee stains, most likely. And I wouldn't want it read with others around or lost in the shuffle. Despite all "ands" or "buts", there are things my heart wants you to know.
You hold my deepest admiration. You are mature beyond your years, in ways I can only wish I had been when I was younger and can only hope to be now. I admire your strong determination in your faith and convictions. I admire your commitment to remaining in God's will for your life, even when you felt like He had locked you in the darkest, soggiest prison. Your example of how a Christian should act in times of hardship has convicted me more than once. At times when you had every right to fume and take offense, you were calm and forgiving. At times when you could hardly crawl out of bed from your sorrow, you accepted what God was doing in your life and found a way to embrace it.
You have been an inspiration. You have inspired more than just boots and scarves and skinny jeans, although I will finally admit that your adorable fashion sense has influenced my choices more than once. You have inspired me to try harder to find God's will in my own life, to quit flippantly deciding things without seeking Him first. You have inspired me to complain less and remain composed more (although I often feel as if I am failing these days).
Maybe you know now why God brought you here. Maybe you never will. I know that you have touched lives and changed hearts and been a light in a dark place. I knew you wouldn't stay, and I like to think I had a hand in helping you leave, but it's hurting me a little more than I thought it would now that you are truly moving on. For selfish reasons of course... you know those as well as I do. But also because I will miss you. I will miss having a calm, Christian presence in my other corner. I will miss our quick visits and occasional lunch conversations. But your next big adventure trumps those things, and I wouldn't want it to be any different than it has to be now.
Think of this when you wear your necklace: I chose the piece on purpose. Not because it is from Washington's coast. For more than just the fact that it resembles a raindrop or a teardrop, both of which were plentiful during your time here. Glass breaks easily and without the constant buffing and scouring of the sand and the waves, it is sharp and jagged. Sea glass has been "refined", so to speak, through the trials and the pain of the ocean. What was once no more than something thrown out and lost at sea, is now beautiful and smooth... worthy of display. I want you to remember that God has used this time in your life to make you even more beautiful. To prepare you for the next steps in His plan for your life. It's not just about remembering us and your time in this wet wilderness. It's about remembering that every bit of our lives is planned by God for His good purpose.
A verse from Jeremiah keeps coming to mind as I write and rewrite these paragraphs. So, in closing...
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity." Jeremiah 29:11-14