I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.
- 2 Corinthians 6:18

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

An Open Letter to my Small Group Leaders

  Senior year. You've stuck with us since 7th grade. I'm not sure how you managed to put up with us all this time, but you did. And here we are, having just finished our last first youth event of the year. This has me feeling all sorts of ways. Maybe the strongest of which being a deep gratitude for the impact you both have had on my life.

  This past weekend, we dove in to what it means to take your faith to the next level. I firmly believe "next-level" faith cannot happen without community. You both have been such an integral part of that community. You have walked alongside me. You have not held my hand and led me, but instead have always encouraged and pushed me to go deeper in my faith- to make my faith my own.

  Over the past five or so years, there have been countless amounts of prayers, lunches, hard talks, bonfires, text messages and phone calls, youth events, tears, and laughter. You have welcomed me, welcomed all of our small group so completely into your lives. You've listened to and prayed over endless boy drama, friend drama, confusions, and broken hearts. You make each of us feel as if we are important and the things bothering us are worth listening to.

  You have never failed to show me love when I am hurting, and you aren't afraid to show me tough love when you see something I need to work on. Thank you for that. Thank you for loving me enough to call me out on things. Sometimes I think y'all know me better than I know myself.

  Thank you. Thank you for seeing potential in me when I don't see it myself. Thank you for speaking truth into my life. Thank you for encouraging me to step out in faith and do the hard things. Thank you for coming alongside me as a middle-schooler and convincing me the world wasn't falling apart when I freaked out over little things. Thank you for coming alongside me as a high-schooler and reminding me that God is good and faithful even when I don't see how. Thank you for reminding me that I need not strive for perfection, but rather strive after the heart of God.

  Thank you leading by example. For not only telling me to follow Christ, but showing me what that looks like on a daily basis. Thank you for showing me that it's okay to mess up. That it's okay to fail. Thank you for all the times you've reminded me that "failure" is not final, and God wants to use me no matter what.

  Thank you for welcoming us into your homes. Thank you for always having an open door. You welcome me like a part of your family. Thank you for letting us be comfortable with you. Thank you for all the times you've replied to late-night text messages when I just need to be reminded I'm not alone. Thank you for letting me cry and vent to you- because sometimes life is messy and hard and sometimes it's just needed. Thank you for all the advice you've given to me and for encouraging me to look for answers in the Word and character of God.

  Thank you for praying for me. You have done this probably more than I'll ever know. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for showing the love of our Savior to me. I cherish you both and I'm cherishing this year we have. You both mean the absolute world to me.
I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now. -Philippians 1:3-5