This passage was written to the teen moms that I have had the honor of sharing life with for the past 3 ½ years. They are a source of hope, inspiration and joy for me. They have truly transformed my life- bringing laughter, babies, and wisdom to places of my heart that I did not know could receive such love. I decided to write them a letter to package some of the “lessons” I have learned along the way before I head to my next adventure in Virginia. I am deep, deep gratitude for these beautiful women.
Gosh, can I just say that I can’t think of you or your sweet babies without smiling. Not just any smile, but a “BEYONCE is on-stage” kind of a smile (and y’all know that makes me happy.)
As I am getting ready to start a new chapter of my own, I wanted to share with you some of the things I have learned. I know this to be true- that it is of the most importance that we record our lessons including our triumphs, our failures and all the in between places. In the bible, God often uses the phrase “Remember.” I find this particular, why is He always asking us to remember? And what is He is asking us to remember?
The answer has become a tiny bit clearer. When we remember, we are able to grasp this beautiful thread of God’s faithfulness, His love for us, His no matter what-ness. The idea that He loves us, no matter what and we are never too far away from His love and peace.
The wisdom I will share with you is mostly from women in my life who offered their whole hearts to me with their insight, their deep compassion and their truest selves. They were the women who cherished and cradled my heart in all its glory and all its trouble.
Strong women can and will always be a source of strength for you. But it must be you who finds and keeps your village of tenacious, brave women to walk beside. At times, they will be there to provide safety and comfort. Their words will either be be like sweet honey to your soul or it will feel like salt of the earth, depending on what you need more. For me, that is Jenny and Jamie. That is Dani and Darlene. Their love for and in me is woven together like a tapestry of hope. I promise you, they know the DIRT. The stuff in your story that you cringe at when you think about it. But this village of women, your hope tapestry- they will always see you for who you really are.
They will call you Beloved, and Worthy. They will demand that YOU demand more respect for yourself. I only say this because I know this to be true, I’ve walked down the road of self-disrespect and disappointment. Our village women will not let us stay in places we shouldn’t, I promise you that. Your Jenny will call you back, listen patiently (when you are most likely sobbing through the phone) and tell you that no, this is not who you are and yes you should try to change. Your Jamie will not shame you, instead she will say (with a confidence that is both bold and beautiful) that the only reason you should let the past into your present is to let it teach you. I encourage you to let these kind of women near your heart. It is not always comfortable to have truth that is so clear that it stings but it is so, so good.
So after your find your village of strong women, I ask you to do the good work of trying to like yourself. It is better to start this sooner than later, because it can take some time like tending to a garden that is full of weeds. I ask that you be the most patient with yourself. Because you will most likely find that there once were seeds of self-hatred and past offenses. You will get frustrated because you want this garden to grow and it takes time.
But you must be patient. In the meantime, offer yourself simple things like music, deep breaths and your child’s laughter. Just as you are plucking out the weeds of frustration, disappointment, and self-sabotage- know that you plant the seeds of joy, hope and love in those very same places.
Finally I ask you, ever so kindly, to love others. There is a verse in the bible that says “Blessed are those who are pure in heart for they will see God." (Matthew 5:8) Blessed are us who invest in the lives of other people because that is where we see God. We need to see God, to see goodness, hope and holiness in the flesh of other people. And we don’t have to wait for other people to do that we can and should BE those people.
No, God is not asking you to be perfect but pleading with you to be pure at heart.
My time investing, learning and growing with you has been some of the sweetest. Baby birthday parties with cake smeared on tiny hands and feet alongside lavish dinner on the top of a mountain are some of my favorite. The spills at Starbucks and Valentines photo booths remind me of you. It reminds me of my beautiful, worthy, strong friends who happen to be moms but mostly importantly are loved by God.
I hope that you take time to remember too, and I rejoice in all that your story is and all that is will be.