An open letter to every person I ever loved.

Am I different than you remember?

Less than?

Contradicting?

Softer?

Did you think I would be more?

Do you recognize me in the photos I post? Do my words make you cringe?

Can you believe we were ever close? Loved each other?

Does the man I love now surprise you? My dreams? The way I live my life? All of my tattoos?

Me, too.

What version of me did you get?

The girl who was going to go to the University of Georgia for Psychology?

The one who didn’t know what she wanted to do?

The girl who was going to be the nurse and help kids overcome the biggest curveball imaginable?

Did I want to be the writer in the loft with the four dogs?

Was I the one running social media for a small start-up, telling the world how worth loving they were?

Did you get the version that was too loud or too sad?

Did I tell you about my dream wedding or did I not want to get married at all?

Would you even recognize me, now?

Would you be disappointed?

If I’m being honest, in my most insecure moments, I thumb through each version you could have known, wanting to hide in the expectations put on some past self rather than the ones I look at now.

Are you hiding, too?

‘Cause I’ve got a list of all your wrongs, and I’ve been ready to spit off all your transgressions; imagine your face when I remind you of all that you took from me. What would you have to say?

Instead, I shrink behind those old expectations of yours. I become a girl jumping through hoops all over again, and it isn’t until you’ve walked away that I realize—all I want to do is wrap my arms around your neck and tell you how sorry I am. Me—I’d be the one with the apologies.

In the safest world, we would stand in the same room and it not be awkward, our hearts not feel like magnets ripping our skin to take us back to the door out; having a history wouldn’t be so hateful, so marking, so final.

I would tell you how sorry I was for the way I loved you too much, the way I pointed my finger at you for making me feel bad for it.

I would tell you I was sorry for the weight I always built on your shoulders to save me, make me everything, choose me.

I would apologize for the way I spoke brokenness over your character for the way you made me feel less than.

I used to think life was too short for boundaries, that the risk of getting hurt was worth it—it wasn’t until now that I realized that maybe boundaries in my life are for the sake of the people I care about, too.

I wish you could have known the beauty of my bridled, not the burn of my bitter.

Yes, in a safer world, we would stand in the same room, and my hands wouldn’t shake, nor would you act like you had never known the words to all my favorite songs or why I loved them.

In a safer world, I would tell you why I am different than how you remember me, and I would tell you that the one single thing I’m the most sorry for is that fact that I didn’t talk with you more about Jesus.

Before, I was always good at tidying up a guest room for Him, filling it with things to make Him feel at home; now He is my roof keeping me dry and the door that opens and closes for me. And all that time I was wasting trying to build a sanctuary out of you, chipping away at the both of us to make us fit.

You see, whenever you knew me, I had a God-sized hole I tried to stretch you to fill up, and when you couldn’t—I just thought it meant you didn’t care enough. Or maybe the hole was my fault. Now I know that it wasn’t up to either of us to top it off—it was meant to overflow.

I wish I could tell you that, in this place, there is no fear, and there’s no bad habits that come with trying to appear unafraid. I wish I could tell you that here, nothing is about you, so all the pressure that comes with having to make sure you get it all right just falls right off you. I wish I could tell you that there’s no oxygen for uncertainty to breathe here because even in the unknowns, when we don’t know where to go, how to achieve, what decision to make, we will always know how the story ends and who is in our corner. And I wish I could tell you that there’s always Someone in your corner, Someone never giving up on you, always taking your side.

You don’t have to fight, here. You can rest, here. You’re given an anthem in the battle, here. There are mended bridges and peace, here. There’s no night too long or too dark that Light can’t break through, here.

I wish I could wrap you up and give you this Love that has changed me. I wish I could reach out and touch your arm and you feel the difference. I wish I could give you an ounce of this Hope I’ve found. I wish it would mean something, to you, if I could.

I wish I could give it to everyone. Because it has meant everything.

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