Dear girls who walk along the pathways and hallways at my college,
Dear women who fill these walls and ceilings with your ideas and questions,
Dear hearts that are so full they feel like bursting,
I see you. Right where you are.
I catch these glimpses of you on my way to and from the student dining hall. I see you scrunched over papers. I see you holding back tears in tight-lipped smiles to the many people who you pass on your way to chemistry. I see you stray a glance in my direction, see me in all my appearing-put-together-as-a-young-professional, and sigh a little in your shoulders. I see you blink and brush past your day, all worried, always worried that there isn’t enough of you, enough of time, enough of effort or fullness or beauty.
Right where you are? It’s all kinds of hard.
Before you tell me that if you only worked harder, if you only sucked it up more, if you only tried to be more cheerful, more in shape, less complaining. Before you tell me you need to get into the Word more, spend more quiet time or homework time or something else, or something else…
Before that – it is hard.
The hard that it is cannot be measured or calculated, cannot be judged, cannot be lined up next to everyone else and compared. It is all its own, it is aching, and it is raw, and it is real. And some days you forget that it is hard; and some days everything you do is a reminder.
If I can tell you anything, as the girl you think is put together, as the person you’re not sure even knows what you’re talking about -
oh love, I just want to wrap you up in a little extra love for yourself today.
I want to tell you that the answer is not in trying harder to be better or to be perfect or to fit into the space you worry you don’t fit into.
The answer isn’t in more activities or more to-do lists, more reprimands for yourself, more scolding. The answer isn’t in staying up later to finish that paper or study as hard as you think you should study for that test.
Can I just give you a hug? Because you, right where you are, right in the middle of the hard, you are wildly lovely and to be cherished.
Someone told me the other day that I am intimidating, because it always seems like I have it together. So here are a few confessions, from me, the girl who wants you to believe that she is perfect and the girl who knows she isn’t, the girl who deeper down than her perfect, wants you to know she is real:
I cry in my office at work when I realize there is a typo in something I just handed in.
Some days I drive into work thinking about all the mean things I want to say to people.
Sometimes I lie in bed watching Castle or Hart of Dixie instead of reading books that would make me intellectually sophisticated, because I really just want to lie in bed watching TV.
I cry in my car after a long run. I avoid mirrors because of the way I’m convinced my stomach looks. I’d rather eat a cupcake and a cheeseburger than a salad. I have gotten into trouble with boys, trouble without boys, trouble about boys. I’ve done stupid. I’ve done selfish. More than I admit.
I get mad at God. I don’t spend all that much time in the Word. I went to church last week and cried the whole way through and didn’t sing the hymns and went home and moped around.
I haven’t got it all together. I’m a mess sitting here writing this to you, but when I see you on campus, with your brightness and your beautiful heart and the way you listen and the way you love, I have to write to you. I have to tell you, dear hearts, that it is okay to be in the hard. It’s okay not to know where to go from here.
I even think it’s okay to sit down right in the middle of it, and whisper, “I have been spent.”
I’ll come sit next to you and give you a hug. And in the middle of it all, where we sit, I think God will come sit down with us.
Because He wants to be with the real us. Because He loves the real.