Those two simple words could never adequately reflect the depths of my gratitude to you. I doubt anything ever could.
I wanted to take a moment and let you know that I would not be the same person if you had not come into my life. I wonder if I would be here at all. You were one of the few people whose eyes I looked into during that season of my life.
I was so worn. So weary. So tired. But also so afraid. I was afraid of letting anyone in because I was afraid of having to let them go. I was too weary to cry for help, and most days too hopeless to lift my head and look around for it.
I would never wish those times on anybody, but I also would not trade them for the world. They have made me into who I am today, but if it wasn’t for you (and the grace of God) I don’t know that I would have made it to today.
Thank you for listening to God and reaching out to me. Thank you for inviting me into your home and showing me love. I needed it so desperately. To look into your kids’ faces and see how much they loved me, to be accepted and loved, unconditionally and fearlessly, was a precious gift.
I am eternally grateful for the time spent with you and your family. I learned so much and was so refreshed by time away from my house. There was a peace and a joy that I experienced with your family that gave my heart strength to keep going.
Saying “see you later” when you moved away was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, because it felt so much like “goodbye”. And in a way, it was. It was “goodbye” to sleepovers and park days, to random drop-in visits and to swinging on your front porch. It was goodbye to being 10 minutes away, because it became over 10 hours away. It was goodbye to the little things that meant everything.
There’s no denying that’s one of the most brutal goodbye’s I’ve ever said, but out of it I said a lot of new hellos. They were scary hello’s, no doubt, but they were hello’s just the same. They were hello’s to finding God’s love in places other than exclusively your family. Those hello’s made me look for God, and when I did, I found Him in the most unlikely of places.
I found Him in people I didn’t even like. I found Him in the new. The new people that needed me to love them just as much as I had needed you to love me. I didn’t like those people because they reminded me so much of me and what I went through, but as I came to realize that it meant what I went through wasn’t wasted, I also came to love them.
As I loved these people and helped them through their trials (which were eerily similar to mine!), I came to find out that one of them lived one street down from where you had moved from.
It was as if God was saying that not only did my heartache come full circle to heal someone else’s heartache, it was the next street onward. Forward progress. I wasn’t stuck in my pain and in missing you, but moving forward.
I still miss you like crazy. It’ll sneak up on me at times and make me cry. But I wanted to say thank you for being such a big part of my life, and thank you for following God when He told you it was time to move on. I’m not the same without you, and I’m so thankful for the times we were together nearly everyday. Now as we are apart, I’m thankful again, because it taught me to pick myself back up and love again.
God used you to give me hope, love, and life, and now I’m passing those things on to others too. Thank you for your example to me. I love you.
PS. Now that girl, the one that lives one street down from where you did, is rising up and loving fearlessly too. She’s ministering to a group of girls and leading them in a study about living loved and overcoming rejection. What God started with you loving me is still going as girls in my community are learning both how much they are loved by God and how to love others.