Dear Study Abroad,
Well. I’m not sure I know where to begin.
This was going to be a thank you letter, but maybe I should start with a confession.
Confession: I was prepared to dislike you. I was prepared to find little to no connection. I was prepared to be starved of soul-filling fellowship. I was prepared to laugh because I had to. I came with rehearsed answers and withheld questions and a body under an expired warranty. I came without trust in the God whom we serve together.
And then you all happened, in all your smudges and imperfections. I was snarky and you laughed, I was silent and you asked, I was tired and you cared. You did not answer every need of my soul, but that is because God used you to build me up in other ways. You built me up so I could see Christ in the mess of the unspoken parts of life.
Corgibutt, thank you for your infectious laughter, your ability to delight, your choice to ask and care. I can’t wait to hear your joy in the halls of Moody.
Catmom, I may not love cats, but I love you and your snark, the theology and thought underneath, the bursts of laughter, your crazy dreams. I mean, what is even…?
Bush with red berries, I never expected another sister, the stories you tell, the care you take, the wisdom you humbly hold, and the tenacity and empathy rooted so deeply in you that you can weather apathy with honesty.
Jane, I wish you could see yourself and the grace you carry. Thank you for the hilarity (leaves!), honesty, and heart. Your own godly womanhood is a testament to those women for whom you care.
Yellow, you were vastly unexpected; a burst of heart and sass, a deeply caring soul, a vulnerable honesty, and a treasure I wish I’d known so much earlier.
Nancy Drew, there are so many strong women I could name for you, but perhaps this is what I appreciate most: your anchor in Christ is deep, your gentleness tangible, your humor a witty, subtle thing.
Sports GODDESS, we may notice your enthusiasm and skill, but neither can we miss your faithfulness in learning, care of everyone you meet, quick eye and hand to help, and humility to see others at their best.
Pocahantas, where did your heart come from? You have blossomed from the quiet observer to the one speaks truth from that, and your heart to teach and care has chosen to remember those who care for you.
Jenna Coleman, I thought you were quiet, but perhaps you only trusted your voice in memes for a while. Thank you for the hilarity and the honesty. Thank you for teaching us how to see present redemption.
Ophelia, I will look forward to seeing your face at the desk now, because I know the faith and healing God has placed in you, alongside the talent and skill to organize and be a faithful Martha and Mary.
Thriftqueen, I wish you were in Chicago, but perhaps God needs your graciousness, killer style, love of food and place, and quiet ability to enter and enjoy at Spokane. By the way, you’re not too old; you’re just right.
Asian Mountain Goat, I will miss you. I will miss your unexpected questions, your ability to speak into everyone, the different glasses with which you look at the world, and your tender heart towards God. The spirit of you will be in every numbered list until we meet again.
Potato, please know we care. Your questions are unexpected, but who knew that on the scale of serial-killer-to-saint, you were in the category of honest friend who can both shock and awe?
Squirrel, Chipmunk, Hamster… I’m unsure how to describe you other than the small friend who never quite goes away, chatters frequently, but brings delight and has learned to care in ways the world has not yet understood. Your cheer and encouragement will be missed. Stay smiling, friend.
Dan Brown, you bring so much to us. Truly, you are built in Christ, a Timothy being brought up into a thoughtful man of God with deep-running thoughts and a still-cherubic-cheer. (Get it? Angels & Demons?)
Big Bear, I meant what I said: you astonish me and contain the qualities of a person unmistakeably transformed by the grace of God. You stand out in a hundred ways, although some of them will be changed once you learn to use your inside voice (ha).
Soccer Dude, don’t change. Don’t change your laughter, your care, your ability to listen, your honesty about God. I may tease you now, but I count it a privilege to see you grow in those things He has so precisely placed in you.
To those who taught: you taught far beyond the classroom, and, from the person who is occasionally starved for a life perspective outside of my generation, you fed my soul, every day. You treated me with respect I did not deserve, made yourself available in countless unasked ways, and looked ever to Christ so we might see Him, too. You cared for our needs of body and mind and spirit, spoke honestly of hard things, praised Him in past and present grace, opened our hearts to receive a greater portion of Him, and believed in the God Who Is. Thank you.
There are so many more people and places and servant-hearted saints to thank. This is just small gratitude for a harvest that I will be reaping for much longer.