Dear 21-Year-Old Leslie,
I came across a bunch of your journal entries today. I read through your pre-marital struggles, your very evident unhappiness in your two-year engagement to X, your breakup, re-engagement and your enabling and tolerance of his wishy-washiness about you, from early on.
I wish you would have had the strength to stay broken up with him, from the very minute he had doubts about you. I wish you would have heeded your instincts. I wish you would have truly believed what you wrote about knowing you could be happy without him; knowing you deserved better.
I wish you had never married him.
But you did, because you loved him. And that’s okay. I want you to know 36-year-old Leslie forgives you. Your struggles, your cries to God even this very day are similar. You crave love and partnership, but I’m proud of you for finally standing up for yourself. I’m proud of the woman you have become. I’m sorry for the pain and suffering that got you here, but I’m really glad you made it.
I want you to know it’s okay to have loved and lost. It’s good to love people. It’s okay to open your heart and be vulnerable. It’s scary and painful, but it’s better than the alternative, which C.S. Lewis so beautifully illustrates:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
Leslie, I want to encourage you to keep believing in yourself. Keep moving forward. Look where God has brought you! Look at the cherry blossoms blooming in your gorgeous New York City apartment. You have prayed and longed for this city for years. And now you are here. It took time, heartache, tears and a massive leap of faith, but you are right where you are supposed to be.
Keep believing. Keep loving. Keep trusting your gut. Keep trusting the Lord.
God’s got you. He’s never going to let you go.