I used to think that life would make more sense when I “grew up.” (Here’s a secret – it doesn’t.)
Ten years ago, after an exceptionally cold and rainy track practice, the news reached me. Just another day turned into one that would rattle me, an entire youth group, a church, a school and a community. It wasn’t pretty. People were confused. Hurt. Angry. Sad. There were tears. There were blank stares from people who didn’t know what to do or say. There were people who tried to hide and people tried to help. And there was a question:
Why didn’t we see it coming?
Why didn’t she tell anyone how much pain she was in?’
Why would God let this happen?
Why would she do it?
And the reality? We don’t really know those answers. And they haven’t come with time. I spent years speculating, thinking, “what if” and “what could I have done?” I knew her. We were friends. I didn’t think we had a deep connection – but we did. We were both outsiders in a world that thought we were happy. People loved us, but we didn’t fully love what others saw. We just wanted to be different from the person we were. We looked in the mirror, or looked inward at ourselves, and saw things we wished were different. There was this idea that we were flawed. That something was wrong with us.
She called me a few weeks before to ask me to prom. I was a freshman and she was a junior. I didn’t really know what say. Sure, I could go – I guess? But wouldn’t she have more fun with friends of her own age – I mean, I couldn’t even drive! Is a girl even allowed to ask a guy to prom? What should I say? Everything seemed backwards. And my secret knew I’d never want more than friendship.
In that moment I didn’t understand friendship comes in different forms I didn’t understand loving people could mean so many things. I had fixed ideas of how the world should work. I was just another young and confused freshman who was figuring things out about myself. We all were. And that’s okay. Because for the rest of your life, you’re going to be figuring things out. There will be twists. And turns. You’ll be hurt. You’ll be confused. And some days it’ll seem your world is crashing down. But you’ll make it through.
Eventually I would find out she was going to prom with a group of friends. She had even picked out a dress. There was hope for a brighter future; I wish she could have seen that. Everyone has secrets and thoughts they want to keep locked away. But if they’re hurting you, let them out. Tell someone. The ones who really love you won’t run away. You might feel ashamed or guilty, but love is blind to those feelings. Love sees you as the beautiful person you are – even when you can’t see it.