This post is inspired by Sarah Jakes’ #dearlostme campaign. She is a fellow PK and great inspiration. She is also the author of the book, Lost and Found, which was released today. I can’t wait for mine to come!
Dear lost Ash,
Where do I begin? There is so much that I want to tell you and there is so much that you should know. I think it’s important for you to know, first and foremost, that you will be found. I cannot say that the process is pretty, quick, or easy but it will come and you will walk in freedom.
With such a sure hope, though, there are a few things that I want you to understand. One – you must dare to love yourself and all that comes with you. I can tell you now that the shame is not having things that you need to change but the shame is in being too proud to be authentically you (which would include accepting and working to change flaws). Those who are meant to love you will love you regardless of your flaws. Those who are meant to love you will also challenge you regarding said flaws. If they cannot find it in them to love you in spite of, love is not what they can give you. Do not allow yourself to be a slave to what you feel like others can give you by way of love and affection. If you don’t love you, there is nothing that anyone can say or do to fill that void. If you don’t love you, you won’t be able to truly discern how well or how poorly someone is loving you anyway.
Living while feigning perfection will drive you crazy and it will eventually erode certain areas of your life. You don’t need to be a certain way, talk a certain way, act a certain way, or carry yourself a certain way in order to be acceptable. You don’t need to live your life in the shadows. Shadows are mere hopes of something real but you are real. What you have to offer is real. Stop looking to everybody to affirm what’s in you and what it is that you need to do. This will make life a lot less complicated and may help you get to your destination a little quicker.
Do not be afraid to live life. Do not be hindered by fear of what “they” might say. Do not lose out on love by refusing to open your eyes. Do not miss out on “great” because of “good.” You are a safe person and you like to hide behind the surety of things but I’d submit to you that you do not have to miss out on living because of the “cost” of living. Feel free to fail and to make mistakes. You can’t be a prisoner to perfectionism for too much longer; time is short.
You’ll learn the value of saying “no” and you’ll also learn what’s worth your “yes”. You’ll hear many people’s voices about your life and how you should live it but you’ll grow to love your own voice. Though you’ll expect Him to do big and small things, you’ll realize the value in “God lies in the connections I cannot make” (Rowan Williams). You’ll know what it’s like to do for others but you’ll recognize the love in doing for yourself. You’ll make decisions that you feel you should regret but you’ll eventually discern the worth of your journey. You’ll almost lose faith but you’ll find the audacious hope to hold on and find God to truly be a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
I wish I could tell you that everything you have planned will come to pass. I wish I could tell you that life will work out the way you imagined. Life will be harder than you ever could have thought and many tears will be shed. You’ll love and lose; you’ll invest in your education and be farther behind than planned; you’ll take so many “L”s during certain time periods that you’ll literally laugh to keep from crying everyday. You’ll look around and see those who seem to care the least have their lives just fall right in line. You’ll see some of the ones who claimed to care the most walk away. You’ll come to question God in so many ways and your cries will seem to be unnoticed.
However, you’ll live to see those tears slow up and one day you’ll notice that you’re smiling again. You’ll look up and see that it was during those roughest times that you grew the most. You’ll become unafraid to be you and go after what you want. You’ll find the grace to pursue what God has placed in you and you’ll be on your way to destiny. You’ll be unashamed to share who you are and you’ll rid yourself of those weighty chains of pleasing others. In other words, not only will you survive but you will come to understand what freedom is – every day.
I want you to know that because you refused to give up, I’m here now. I’m proud of you.
A Hope and A Future 2014