To whom it may concern…

This letter is for my true friends. It’s not necessarily going to be well-written, fancy, or laced with poetry and a rich vocabulary, but it will be from my heart. I’m expressing my deepest gratitude in the best way I can–through writing.

Dear friends,

Thank you. At a time where I so desire them, words fail me. And, as you all know, that isn’t a common occurrence. Thanking people isn’t my strong suit. I’m not talking about when I get a gift or anything like that. I’m talking about thanking people for things far more important than a dusty old sweater from Aunt Lou (no, I don’t have an Aunt Lou, but I do appreciate old sweaters). I’m talking about thanking people for love and friendship.

I guess I’ve always felt a little bit alone. We all have a “love tank” that needs to be filled up at the love gas station every once in a while. Everyone has love tanks that are to be filled with love from different people–family, friends, etc. Well, I often got used to running on fumes with the friend tank. (That sounds weird, doesn’t it? The friend tank. Like a bubbling vat of hu—never mind.) My expectation of friendship lessened every time I was betrayed, lied to, stolen from, and so on. Pretty soon, a friend was just someone I could smile and nod at.

And, because I was so mistrustful of people in general, I stopped feeling comfortable being myself. I had a friend-making strategy that really didn’t get me true friends. I’d sit back and observe people, then, if they approached me, I’d conform myself to their sense of humor, their opinions and values, and basically become a mini them. I couldn’t disagree with anything they said–that would make them hate me! So I’d force a laugh at all their jokes, nod at their messed up views, and let them take advantage of me. I often became a source of entertainment, a toy, just so I could get the true friendship I so desired. I never got it from them, of course. The minute I decided to stand up to them, to not allow them to stomp all over me, they left me.

Then, after awhile, I started meeting true friends. Some of them I’d known forever, but had neglected to talk to them. Some of them reached out to me first, like many of you. I was in a horrible place in my life, and you didn’t stop caring about me. It didn’t make any sense to me at the time. I hated my world, but I hated myself even more. You guys being there for me didn’t compute with my self-hatred programming. So, I lashed out at some of you–and I am truly sorry for that. Really, I am.

I don’t know where I would be without you. You guys pointed me to Jesus. I let God hack into my internal computer and rewrite everything, and the old life is gone. Now I can be myself without feeling like an unwanted freak.

You all are amazing. You listen to me, laugh at my strange and random humor, include me, love me….you’re just great friends. I’ve never felt so cared about by any group of peers.

If you didn’t know the context, it might sound strange to hear that I was crying with happiness over having friends. The other night I was so grateful, I could not contain it. You have no idea how grateful I am, to you and to God. 

I love you all.

 

With utmost gratitude,

Abigail

Older Sisters

I’ve always wanted an older sister. She’d be a gentle spirit, someone compassionate and easy to talk to. We’d stay up late laughing and giggling about the silliest things. On my worst days, I’d sit down and talk about it, and she’d always listen. All the time she’d love me and care about me, and we would laugh and cry together like best friends.

It’s different having a younger sister–not worse, but different.  It’s a very different experience mixed with different struggles and joys, just like how it is having an older brother. I’m always trying to reach out to my little sister and guide her through her middle school years (like warning her of the perils of dating teenage boys). We’re close enough in age that we can be great friends, but I know she looks up to me.

But what about when I need a big sister, a person old enough to give me advice, but young enough to understand me and not try to tell me what to do? Through the years, I’ve created “older sisters” for myself–imaginary friends, story characters, and even natural things like trees and streams. These things, however, never suffice for a real person. At the end of the day, any conversations we could have will be only in my head, only figments of my imagination. Trees and story characters will never be able to give me hugs when I’m sad, and they’ll never be able to laugh with me, cry with me, and simply be there for me.

This subject crosses my mind because I am just a week away from entering high school, a time full of new decisions, new responsibilities, and new everything, pretty much. Wouldn’t an older sister be so nice right about now?

But hey, I’ve made it fourteen years, and I’m pretty okay with life right now. I’ll make it through for sure, don’t worry.

 

 

Love came down and rescued me

Love came down and rescued me

There was a time in my life when I was angry and cynical all the time, releasing my judgment on anything that seemed stupid or unreasonable to me. Sometimes this wrath was unleashed on the silliest topics, like what brand of sock was most common. I listened to angry music, watched angry comedy, read angry books, and essentially indulged in hatred. If fury was a fast-food restaurant, I ate there every day and gorged myself on a McHatred combo with a side of apathy and an extra-large depression soda.

I can talk on and on about how love came down and rescued me, how it snatched me from the raging rivers of deep lies, sadness, and anger. Do I ever talk about how hate came down and rescued me? No, because it didn’t. It was love–God’s unfailing love–that saved me from the path I was turning onto. Love gave me the sense of belonging I thirsted for, not hatred.

When I finally let go of trivial anger, I found myself not only accepting people more easily, but having compassion on them and their own trials. My ability to give and receive love expanded, and I began seeking out the brokenhearted.

I’m not saying anger is bad. Feelings are never bad–they’re feelings. My point is that some things are simply not worth getting angry over, and if we find out why we’re angry about those things and let God’s great love fill in our hungry gaps, we can enrich and benefit our own lives and the lives of others.

When I thought I’d never get better, love came down and rescued me from my hurt, my anger, and my shame. Have hope in love, and have hope in God. After all…

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

Laughing after-the-fact

As a little kid, I thought I’d be the coolest person alive by the time I was twelve. I’d be standing by my locker surrounded by a crowd of Abigail-wannabes and drooling boys waiting for an autograph. Then, with a flip of my perfectly glossy, smooth hair, I’d slam my locker door and strut off to class, leaving my startled fans behind.

When I entered the seventh grade, I stuck my finger in life’s electrical outlet and received quite a shock. I had no wannabes–I was a wannabe. The boys treated me like a joke. I was a shy kid just over five feet with an appearance nowhere near what I’d wanted it to be. Even my locker was inferior to my imaginary one.

Have an idea of how disappointed I was when I entered middle school? I hope so, because I’m going to share some of my funny-yet-unfortunate middle school stories. You know, the lighthearted ones that can only be laughed about after-the-fact.

At my middle school, we’d only have all classes on one day. All other days we had block scheduling–first period, third, fifth, seventh, and second, fourth, sixth, and eighth the next day. Well, twelve-year old me had mind-blanks every once in a while. Books in hand, I rushed off to my sixth period science class. As soon as I stepped in the room, I sensed something was wrong, but didn’t quite place it for a few seconds. Then I realized it–none of my classmates were there. The teacher approached me, a little puzzled. “Abigail, this is fifth period. Would you like a late pass?” Words can describe the depths of my embarrassment. “No,” I squeaked, feeling my face turning red. “I’m okay.” Head bowed, I scurried away to get replace my science materials with my history materials. The tardy bell rang as I was frantically trying to pry my locker door open. By the time I’d gotten all my materials, the hallways were empty. Now, let me tell you right now–you do NOT want to be the last one in the hallway. It’s terribly unsettling to be able to hear the echo of your own hurried footsteps. One can compare it to being the last one on a destroyed planet, about to miss the spaceship that will carry all survivors away to a safe place. Terribly anxious, I walked into the classroom–and my last hope fell to pieces. Standing before me was a class, dead silent, and a very angry substitute. “You’re late. Where’s your pass?” asked the sub, glaring. My stomach sloshed and kicked at me, reminding me of my science teacher’s offer, which I had stupidly turned down. In complete shock, I could not answer him. “Where’s your pass?” asked the sub again, this time more severely. Thankfully, a fellow classmate spoke for me. “She doesn’t have a pass.” Somehow, I survived the experience and took my place at my desk, desperately wishing to be at home.
It was that day I discovered the art of strategic crying.
In elementary school, I cried when I needed to. Oftentimes that was in class or, in extreme cases, in front of the teacher. (Yes, it happened. It was embarrassing, but it happened.) In middle school, however, I found out a way to cry without being found out. With all the new demands, social drama, and other crap that was placed upon my shoulders in seventh grade, crying became a necessary way to relieve stress. Instead of putting my head in my hands and bawling, I’d yawn. If my classmates noticed my eyes watering, I’d blame it on the fact that I had just yawned and was very tired. Then I would look down at my paper or notebook and pretend to be working. This way, my eyes would be more guarded and any onlookers would assume I was just completing assignments. Strategic crying included several other tactics which saved me several times throughout middle school.

You know, all students who have completed middle school need to be given special badges that read “I survived the hellhole.”