It's Christmas 2013 where you are now and you have finished your undergraduate studies in history. You probably have an idea of where you're going next, whether it is graduate school or an internship or a job. It is hard for me to imagine what that will feel like, knowing that a few months ago I would be done three months from now and trading it all in to regain a piece of our life.
We made the decision to change schools did we not? I hope it was still the right thing to do. I hope one year from now I am not graduating from a different school than the one I am at now. What would that say about my, our, decision making process, huh? The funny thing is, I don't know where else you would go. You were in Colorado just at the beginning of the month and your old university has moved on without you, like you blew away with the sage-brush, just like you insisted would happen. People do not believe you like they should. A handful of people still keep up with you, others are too hurt or do not care anymore, or never did. You probably still do not know the answer to that either.
I hope, fifteen months from now, when you find this letter and reread it, you are in a happier place than I am right now. That you are in a better place physically, meaning you can kick some literal ass; that you are in a better place spiritually, since neither university or home seem to pull you from the stagnant; that you are in a better place mentally, not double-guessing yourself or plagued with so much fear.
Tonight I am not feeling well. It appears to be a developing sinus infection, with an already impressive cough, we could skip infection and go straight to bronchitis if we're lucky, that's where the good meds are. But it is more than that. It always is.
Tonight I am mad at a guy, jealous of a girl, but predominantly angry at myself for doing it again. You know what I mean (we have to work on that). You stamped his opinion card a bit too early. You let yourself think, despite your conscience whispering, "Be careful," that just maybe the drop of interest he had displayed, the chemistry you possessed would be something. It, clearly, is not. He has chosen the other girl, hasn't he? And I am so, just, annoyed at him for it. The kind of annoyed where they say something and you just laugh, knowing anything else is too painful and imagine running him down with your car. It is the kind of jealousy that makes you not want to like her, even though you don't know her really well and you have no reason to dislike her. She has never been anything but nice to you. But it is the anger at myself for thinking, that just maybe, this one would be different. This is the guy; the smart, charming, intelligent, Christ-oriented guy that was going to look at me and say, "Her." He may not have been THE guy, but he could have been a good beginning.
But he is not either the first or the last one, is he...and I am frustrated. I do not know what your life looks like right now, a newly minted, degree-possessing graduate. I do not know if we have someone special in our lives. It is entirely probable, but I am banking on the assumption that this is unlikely. I suspect that your time between school, church, and work has convinced you of three things: that men are gay, taken, and the single ones are dead. That is how I feel right now. Which is a rotten way to feel, in case you do not remember at Christmas. And it is not the way God intended us to feel either.
So, I have come up with a list of things that I am starting now, this week, the moment I awaken in the morning, because things have to change or disaster will strike. I hope that when you are reading this, you can that you have done most, if not all of these things and are working on finishing the list before you're twenty-five.
1. I hope you are able to look at yourself every day and believe, down to your soul that you are beautiful. To believe that God loves you as his daughter, something you have professed for years, but are no longer sure what that means right now. To have confidence in what you have done with your life and for yourself and nobody else.
2. I hope you are healthy, physically. That you have an understanding of what makes you sick and how you can remain healthier for longer; limiting your flares and your trips to the hospital for ER grade migraine treatment or medication because eating anything makes you sick and lose weight, and not because you did P90X for five days straight.
3. That you have maintained the friendships that matter to you, completely severed the ones that do not, and found the courage to decide for yourself whether someone is worth the heartache or deserves a good lashing. I pray that at least one friend from Colorado has flown out to see you, and if they haven't, that your graduation party they would not miss for the world.
4. That you will board a plane soon that takes you to exotic locations, for thirty days, where you run around Europe and see life beyond the small town you returned to.
5. I pray that the courage exists inside you to leave when it is time to leave. I know that we came back to Pittsburgh to settle and stay here and perhaps, that is what will be for a few years or perhaps, Pittsburgh will always be home base, but promise that you have worked on your fear of going somewhere on your own, where you know a few or no one, even if it is not Littleton, Colorado.
6. I pray that you have worked on your mental health, that these hard days do not overwhelm you like they overwhelm me now. That dangerous thoughts are behind you, that you are reading this letter and it finds you unable to recognize the tear-stained cheeks of the you who wrote it.
7. And, despite it not being an even number, but the perfect number, I pray that you know love. Even if it is not in the way you are hurting for it now. While that love is wonderful, it is short compared to eternal love and the love of those who are there for you now. I pray that you continue to pursue different people who intrigue at an alarming rate, especially the woman you are jealous of and the man that is good for her. You can learn a lot from her, I know you know that, and that you support her own walk when it comes time. And that you know and understand that he is not going to wake up one morning and realize you are what he is missing. Life does not work that way. Romance, while the gesture is wonderful, occurs within the ordinary and you have fallen pray to assigning it extraordinary terms. You deserve those terms, but maybe not in the way you thought we would see it.
He already offers you an extraordinary love. He has always offered it to you. He died so that you might come be with Him. Live with Him. Follow Him. Trust Him.
It is hard, I am not going to lie. I am sure the trials you have faced are greater than my own at this writing, which is hard to imagine. But, our friend is right, we cannot resign, no matter how wonderful a cave sounds, we are too tough. I am too tough. You are too tough. Remember that. We have been through so much worse than this. Loss has its minor forms and major forms, life has its sharps and flats, music crescendos and cannot hold indefinitely.
Make me another promise, when you find this and read it in a year, that you will read it out loud and read everything you have written since this point back to me. I want to hear how your story turns out so far because it is no where close to the end. I want to hear all your bad days. I want you to find someone to share them with and be very honest. I want you to believe that you are loved and visible, I do not care if you have to tattoo something in your skin to remind yourself.
It was never between you and them, it was between you and Him anyway.