Dear little sister,
I am unforgiving.
I hold on to things.
I have hard lines in my relationships.
In the final few months of 2018, I talked to you a lot about grace, but I’m not so sure I always know how to give it to myself or others.
I’m worried that my pain in endings is probably my own fault.
Because I am unforgiving.
Because I hold on to things
Because I have hard lines in relationships.
Little sister, you and I look at our parents and their stories and we preach that no one has a darkness too heavy that Jesus can’t change their stars, but I wonder if we, too, are just the byproducts of the wounds we were born into.
It’s a nice gesture to say that what’s happened to people is not the defining factor in who they can become or the life that they can have.
But do we believe it for ourselves?
Because we used to sit on the edge of our seats during family dinners, straight backed and polite, trying to finish before people started yelling.
We used to lay in the dark and talk about the people we missed while our mother sat down the hallway, stricken with fear that had been instilled by family.
Our favorite uncle died, and we never got to tell him goodbye.
Our cousin left.
Secrets were whispered in the light of our living room that would change the dynamic of our household and finally make sense of our past.
I told you things too late.
And while I was old enough to shuffle through what hurt and take what I could handle, you were just growing up.
I became unforgiving. I stopped letting things go. I formed hard lines in my relationships.
But you? The little forming parts of you that were still learning about family, friendship, staying—those were the little parts that watched.
You were shaped by absence.
While the rest of us were learning how to cope with loss, you normalized it.
Me? I took my church pews and tried building sanctuaries out of people.
You? You never saw the point in that.
2018 took its best swings at you, little sister.
I’d be lying if I said I’m not still trying to figure it all out. I’ve played a very unbalanced game over the past few years: caring too much and saying, “at least I can say I gave it everything I had,” or searching wildly for the worst in everyone so I could have my list of reasons to not care at all.
But it’s 2019, and now I have another list, and this ones just for you, little sister:
Don’t build a guest room for loneliness to stay in.
Don’t leave a spot at your table for Goodbye, because goodbyes aren’t normal.
Search for the best parts of people.
Don’t hold on too tightly to those parts, but God, clap loudly for those parts.
Give it all you got but accept when peoples’ arms are just too full to accept what you have.
I think we thought we would be the types of people to have lifelong friends, but now I think that we might need different people for different seasons.
Its okay that people change. You’ve changed a lot, too.
Send the text, little sister. Get in the car. Say yes to the invite. Get dressed up. Buy the shoes. Go on all of the first dates until you know exactly what you want. Don’t close your eyes for the breathless moments—open them wide.
And most of all, little sister: that thing inside of you that walks away before, “goodbye”? Run against it, fast and hard. When you feel that pull in your stomach that wants to keep you from getting close, run towards what it’s trying to keep you from.
It’s okay to make new inside jokes with different people. It’s okay if someone doesn’t already know the name of your favorite band or how you got that scar on your chin, and you don’t know their favorite color or that they snort when they laugh.
It’s not about people staying. It’s about sitting down at the Waffle House booth and not thinking about loosing them for even a second because you’re too busy letting them get to know you.
Because little sister, you’re someone worth knowing.