My little sister graduated from boot camp as a United States Marine last month, so this month she enters combat school to continue her training. I am thankful that God gave me a love of writing! I was able to write her several letters while she was in boot camp (she told me she got more from me than she did from anyone else), and I am undertaking a just-as-intense letter writing regime to support her during combat school.
This weekend, as I finished my letter to her, I realized that much of what I’d written was really stuff that I had recently learned that I wished I’d learned sooner. Stuff about God and people and life. It was a letter my younger self would’ve needed.
I decided to copy the letter into a document and save it. But there are so many “younger sisters” out there…
I don’t really know what’s going through your mind this weekend, but I want you to know that, this Valentine’s Day, you are very loved! By me and by many people in your life! I realize that you are probably not getting as many letters in combat school as you did in boot camp from the people who swore they were your forever friends, but don’t let it get to you.
First of all, recognize that your life is like a tapestry. Some people in it are the consistent border threads that run through all of your life, and some people are the brilliant flashes of color, threads that are only in one part of the tapestry. All of the threads make you unique, make you who you are as a person. You wouldn’t be you if any of them were non-existent, temporary, or permanent.
Second of all, if people tell you that they’ll always be there for you and they’re not, it’s their loss, not yours. It has to do with their personal character, not yours. It’s not that you’re not worth their time or that they don’t love you or that they don’t think of you ever; it’s simply that they haven’t had the maturity and the circumstances necessary to cultivate true loyalty and commitment, two traits that I remember you saying were planted and developed in you while you were in boot camp. Extend to these people the grace of a second chance. Give them other opportunities to learn to be loyal and committed. Let them still be in your life so you can be a model and a teacher of these two character traits for them.
Finally, grab for God. Remember that leap of faith swing you told me about on the challenge course? Going through life with God is a lot like that sometimes; you leap and grab, realizing that He’s there, that He’ll hold you – but you don’t get to see Him or what He’s doing or what He’s planned all of the time. I hope you still have the camo Bible you wrote all over. You should look up Job 23:8-10: “I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I do not see Him. On the left hand when He is working, I don’t see Him, and when I turn to the right, I don’t see Him there, either. But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I will come out as gold.” This verse captures how I feel about God a lot when I look back on my life.
You’ve got to remember all that He’s already brought you through. Look back on your boot camp experience and reflect on the times you were so sure that you weren’t going to make it, when you were standing on those footprints in front of your drill instructor’s door at night, hand raised to knock, question, and quit, but you didn’t. You just didn’t. Maybe you thought it was all you, but know that it was all God. He wants you right where you are right now in this moment.
You know, God’s really a Marine; He lived and died by Semper Fi. You can call Him that when you talk to Him because He is. It’s great to have a personal name for God.
The reason why I write and keep journals about how God came through for me in the past is because those situations show me His character, and His character never changes.You can hold onto His character and re-claim verses and remember situations because He doesn’t change. He’s the loyal, committed, consistent thread in your life that holds you together, ever if you didn’t ever see Him in the past, or you saw Him presented the wrong way as a child.
You can hold onto His character and re-claim verses and remember situations because He doesn’t change.
Since my four year meeting God date just passed, I’ve found myself considering where God was in the jumble of childhood and challenging life circumstances. Accept that you didn’t see Him, accept that you didn’t always know where He was or what He was doing in the middle of the action, but don’t ever believe that He wasn’t there.
So Valentine’s Day …don’t be lonely because you are loved.
Love, your older sister