It's been just over a week since camp has finished and when I think about our summer together, there are a million things I want to say. I know this is a surprise to you since I rarely feel the need to talk. (Kidding. Obviously.)
I'm twenty-one and you're sixteen and seventeen and eighteen, and truth be told, there's not a whole lot that separates you and I. I see a lot of me in a lot of you, and sometimes I laugh and verbally thank Jesus that I'm four, five, six years down the road because the years that you're in right now can be downright hard. I know this. You know this.
You're in a transitional time in your life -- finishing up high school, applying for college, heading to your first classes of university, starting your internships, going back to Peru -- and I want you to know this: I am cheering you on, sister. I have invisible pom-poms and I am going wild over here, yelling and screaming as loud as I can, shouting your name from the top of my lungs, saying, you can do this! You are remarkable! I believe in you!
Can you hear me? Can you hear me obnoxiously yelling like a mad woman, refusing to quit my belief in you?
So this, dear girls, is what I want to tell you:
You are brave. I hope you've heard me say this hundreds of times by now. I'll say it a hundred more and each time it'll still be true. What you are doing right now is brave. Where you're going, where you're staying? Brave. I think a lot of the time we can get caught up in where we're supposed to be headed, thinking that only if we're on our way somewhere we'll be considered courageous. We forget sometimes that staying planted where we are can be just as brave as if we were going somewhere new.
You are valuable. I want you to tangle this so tightly around your heart that you can't forget it. You are extraordinarily valuable. If you're anything like me, you'll doubt this truth real hard. You'll fight it, curse it, convince yourself you're the only girl on the planet who isn't enough. Tell me when those days come, won't you? I'll pull my blunt card from my back pocket and let you know exactly what I'm thinking: you are enough. You are valuable. You are worthy.
Don't quit on Jesus. He is crazy for you. I don't know how you feel about Jesus after this summer -- I hope you know more about him than you did in June. I hope you're sure of his relentless love, and his grace that goes on forever. I hope you recognize that he has good things in store for you, and that while said plan may not feel good right now, his goodness succeeds whatever feelings we might have. I hope you believe every aspect of the Bible is true, that it's not something you can pick and choose. I hope you know everything that comes from God comes from a place of love. Don't quit on Jesus. He's so good. He's so for you.
I pray that no matter what your year looks like, no matter the hard, crappy things that happen, no matter the tantalizing ideas the world might offer, I pray you wouldn't lose your hope in Jesus. I pray you root yourself in who God says he is, and who he says you are.
Be authentic -- be the same person wherever you are. Talk to Jesus. Read your Bible. Find a community of safe people who love Jesus and love you. Write those words, share that art, do your thing, and do it boldly. And know that even though the summer is over, my belief in you isn't.