I was eighteen when my I felt my heart ache for the first time in a way that it never had before. I was eighteen when I realized how long I had gone without realizing this ache had always been there. I was eighteen when I cried more than I have ever cried before, which is saying something for the huge softy that I am.
I can’t tell you what happened exactly. I just know what my heart felt. It needed something. It needed something more than I ever knew how to need something. Apart from the love of my parents, I had a hard time accepting much else in life. My parents have radically shaped the love I expect and accept from other people in my life. Yes, there were days that words were mumbled under the breath of a confused teenager who thought she knew better and understood life in a more complex way than they did.
But, they were patient. They showed love. I’m twenty-four now, and I’ve never closed my eyes at night doubting the love of my parents. I can’t wait to make my children feel that kind of love. That love feels so good. That love makes my eyes water just thinking about.
But because of that love, I never felt incomplete growing up. I never felt without. There were days that I was confused, mostly about boys, but never about God. I didn’t let Him love me, because my parents did it so well. I realize now why it wasn’t until I was eighteen that I felt a new, bitter void showing up like a long lost friend.
I was away from home. I was away from that daily love, and though I received their love still, miles away, something was different. I needed more.
He was pushing so hard on my heart, begging me to let Him love me, just to taste how sweet it was. He knew I wouldn’t be able to turn away. He knew it so well. He knew how badly my heart needed Him.
It’s been six years since I started visiting the hallway of my dorm building at 5 a.m., and when I pour over those journals, they bring me right back to that ache… an ache I so easily lose sight of.
I’ll be the first to admit that life is hard. Family is hard. Friendship is hard. Marriage is hard. Ministry is hard. Being yourself is hard. Liking yourself is even harder. I’ve welcomed so many new things with adulthood that sometimes I wish hiding under the covers could indeed take me away from all of it. Life does an amazing job at making you feel unworthy and no good.
We taste these burdens of our own and of those closest to us. We see the hurt in the eyes, we see the weakness in the breath, wishing for a different story to be told.
Eighteen year old me found something, something I never want to lose sight of. Twenty-four year old me, married me, hurt me, prideful me, stubborn me, loving me, passionate me, sinful me… every part of me, it’s my story that He has given me. The pages are different, some are ripped and damaged, and some have tears spilled over them, but they are my story regardless. They’re my story and He’s my Author.
He slipped into my heart so quietly, into a heart that He knew needed Him. And every day, He’s been leaving me reminders that He’s not going anywhere. Every single page… He’s been there, even for the pages I don’t like reading, even for the pages I’m too embarrassed to show anyone, even for the pages that I want to rip up and erase from my memory… ALL OF THEM.
And on all of them He’s been writing “I’m not done with you yet, hold tight to Me. I found you, when you needed Me. That ache is Me, don’t shy away from that. Trust Me.”
And the best part is, no matter how different your story is from mine, even if you weren’t the eighteen year old with her knees pulled to her chest and tears streaming down her face, those words are FOR YOU. Those words are written for you. Read them again.
“I’m not done with you yet, hold tight to Me. I found you, when you needed Me. That ache is Me, don’t shy away from that. Trust Me.”
“I’m not done with you.”
This is my story. He’s not done with me yet. Every page, every day, for Him. Nothing else matters. Maybe you needed to hear that just as much as I did.