to my Austin High seniors
May 2015 showed up sooner than expected. June 4th’s the night I’ve been wishing would please take its sweet time. In a matter of days, you’ll strut across a stage and grab the paper that says you’ve done it and flip your tassels and flip pages to next chapters–pages that don’t tangibly include me. I won’t even be there to watch. And while I’m all settled elsewhere, you’ll pack up all you’ve got and move eastward, westward, forward. This will be my scariest turned page.
A four-year finale. Just. Like. That.
Easy answer, that time a boy asked me who I’m most myself around. You guys. You’ve been my people all this while. You’re my summer pen pals; you send life-giving letters like I like, like I love and live by. You visit me on 24-hour off days so I can exhale in good company, good conversation. You say a spontaneous yes to ranch road trips and hay-bale climbing and sunrise from the rafters and all kinds of Layne adventures. You show up to Monday night dance parties, for pied faces and hermit crab guest appearances and Layme jokes and so I’d speak to an audience of faces familiar. You let me steal your Wednesdays, to sit around a picnic table or fireside in a cozy living room to learn Truth, to love people, to let Him weave each of our wild stories together pretty like only He can. You let me steal your sleep and your mornings and your secrets, the ones you don’t want to tell and don’t even really mean to but tell me anyways. You invite me to birthday dinners and fancy banquets and graduation parties and to be your AGS guest expert judge and into your homes and your pasts and your hearts.
Oh the things you’ve taught me—that list might stretch forever. From high school slang to snapchat to 1 Timothy 4:12 in action. (Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.) From promposals and a thousand fishbowl rounds to porch swing salvation and Mozarts morning book clubs. Pep rally mosh pits and dinner dates, off-campus lunch and school night sleepovers. Exploring wheat fields and creek beds and celebrating really anything. Dock getaways and just-because costumes and all my ridiculous ideas you carried out with me. Embarrassing you front row at soccer games and Redjacket showcases. Playing pretend-mama in the circle drive, koala hugs galore, photographing your every move on the mom camera. Seeing you face stacks of out of state college decisions expectant and ready. Watching you flip cardboard over brave, having known and chased after both the before you and the after you. Cheering from the sidelines as you find and reach the lost sheep I never ever could, as you scream from platforms the things that last forever. Tag-teaming ministry alongside you. I’m better, because lots of you’s rubbed off on me.
You’ve expanded my heart’s dimensions, you’ve become my people—I didn’t sign up for this. You’re my freedom friends in a whole lot of ways. The kind of friends that jump all in and don’t ask for fine-print details. The kind that speak words so good I etch them inside my head and my heart, plaster upon pages and chalkboard walls. The kind that sacrifice and tell me I matter and don’t ever perform like this relationship’s only top-down vertical. The kind that let you breathe easy, the kind that love me right back.
You’ll give graduation speeches and grace sorority pledge classes and fly far away from here to new homes and new adventures. I’ll be back in your city, on a different side of town, watching my God fill my heart with what’s next. You’ll take pieces of me across state lines to Cali, Virginia, Arkansas, down the street, Mississippi, Alabama, College Station, Kansas, Tennessee, and I’m not sure what will be left. But there will be room. I’m not sure what or who He’ll fill left-behind spaces with but I’m dying to find out.
I know you’ll miss my pep-talk tangents, so here’s one for the road: Climb mountains palms up, peak them and move them. Hunt for the sheep not of this fold, slow down for the stragglers. Throw the waywards over your shoulder and celebrate at the welcome mat. Armor up when the enemy says you better edit you, edit God’s prized creation—start believing Him at His word, that He doesn’t make mistakes. Always abide. Mess up. Own up. When He says go go go, don’t think twice because there’s nowhere He isn’t. Choose faith instead of fear. Be song-writers and story tellers and always call home, or at least call me. Refuse to let the alive, active word of God sit stale and dusty bedside. Study it, see it with wonder eyes, feast on it. Ask the rich questions, be the friend someone’s begged God for years. Grow up in only the good ways. Think big thoughts and big dreams. Remember the only kind of enough you ought to be is you enough—and I think you’re just that. Sink your roots down deep where He plants you. Make Kansas soil and College Station soil and down-the-street soil your own. Let Him water you, stretch you, color you. Dare to resist—don’t conform to this place and its patterns. Don’t let the dots or stars stick, dare to believe you’re special. Sit still enough to listen—really listen—to the Holy Spirit that empowers and whispers reminders of the good stuff. Run away to the mountainside when you’ve just got to be with your Abba. When everyone else is choosing everything else, choose Jesus. Bottom line. Choose Jesus. I dare you.
Someday far along this timeline towards eternity, I dream you’ll still be a part of my story. Whether I’m on your radar or not, I’ll be off doing who knows what, who knows where, having not forgotten about you. And I’ve told you this before: if you don’t remember much about me, He’s the One you better never forget. He’s who never puts you second or shows up late or graduates or moves on or loses—but He loves, He wins, He lasts. And He’s been waiting, scanning horizons just for you.
4 years ago you scared the living daylights out of me. Today, I find my clenched fists resisting the let-go. Let’s face our own little unfamiliar at the same time, life on life, like we’ve mastered. This one’s for my freedom friends, my forever friends, my little sisters. I love you deep and wide, love you long time and long distance.
You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!
| Dr. Suess |
You’re a good good Father and You take good good care of my people. I trust You. My Isaac little sisters all handed over to the hands that know a whole lot better. Ready me for what’s next. I love You!