A little less than six years ago, I had the privilege of meeting six high school freshman girls, in a children’s classroom at Intown Community Church, complete with tiny little chairs and a too-short table. That first meeting was a little awkward for me. Here were six girls in front of me who had known each other most of their lives and were more than a little reluctant to let me into the group. The journey I traveled with those girls over the next three years wasn’t always an easy one. They stood me up more than once, and there were many times I didn’t think anything I said made any bit of difference. I recognized myself in them—the girl who fought with her mom, the girl who wanted to do the right thing and be popular at the same time, the girl who was just trying to make sense of life and where it was headed, the girl who was afraid of leaving the life she was comfortable with. I’m so glad high school lasts only four years.
After three years together, these beautiful young women had let me into their hearts. There were conversations over dinner or coffee or ice cream about broken hearts, broken relationships, fears about the future, parents who frustrated them, and most importantly, where God had met them in those places, or would meet them in those places. Saying goodbye to them when I left Atlanta was heart wrenching. I knew these girls better than they realized. I could see in each of them ways that God had gifted them, the unique attributes that made them wonderful and special. I could also see their sin—the different temptations that each of them would struggle with.
Those six girls taught me much. I learned about patience, about unconditional love, about the ways in which God’s word does not return void, even if we can’t always see it. I learned more about friendship from watching the ways in which they loved each other. I learned to appreciate the beauty that lies in people who are different from me. I learned that I can be fiercely protective of the people that I care about. I learned that although I call them mine, they belong to the Lord. I pray that God would be at work in their hearts, molding them and shaping them into the women He’s calling them to be. I pray that they would daily grow in love and grace and faith. They are sophomores in college now, forging their own ways in this world. I treasure the occasional updates that I get, sharing with me the amazing things God is doing in them and around them.
I hope that in some small way God has used me in their stories; they are certainly written on the pages of mine. To Allison, Anna, Audrey, Elena, Gray, and Kim—you are deeply loved. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to know you.