The assignment: Write a letter of love and gratitude to someone who has made a difference in your story. A letter of thanks to someone from your past that has changed your tomorrows. Someone who has loved you well and taught you about life. Write them a letter of love and grace.
I wrote this letter in response to the assignment from Kara at Mundane Faithfulness… click the image or the link to read more letters from other bloggers and to learn more about Kara and her heartbreakingly amazing story.
Trying to figure out who to write that letter to… so very many people come to mind. My parents; my youth group leaders; my middle school teacher, Mr. Small; my high school teacher, Mr. Sanders; my husband; my children and other members of my family… those are all people who without a doubt have had an impact on my life and my story but then it came to me and I knew who it was going to be. My Rooks girls… my college friends who all landed, along with me, on the first floor of our dorm (Rooks-VanDellen) our freshman year at Calvin out of sheer luck (and a little divine intervention). Ladies… I’m already crying.
There were ten of us: Michelle, Kara, Julie, Jenny, Lisa, Sarah, Jonna, Pauline, Amy and Tracey – all strangers (for the most part – Julie I have known my entire life and while she wasn’t on our floor the first year, she joined us there sophomore year), all from different backgrounds and geographic locations and not one of us from Grand Rapids. We came to Calvin for different reasons: it was engrained in our CRC (Christian Reformed Church) blood, we wanted a Christian education, someone we knew went to Calvin and loved it, whatever the reason, however the decision was made, I know we ended up there because God knew we needed each other.
I have mentioned my First Rooks girls in multiples posts as people I am thankful for and about things/people I love. I have said they are my heart (and they are) and I have expressed my love for one gal in particular during a very scary time in her life but I can never say enough how much I love these women and express adequately in words how much they have meant to me in my life. Since the fall of 1996, not one week has gone by that I don’t see, talk to or communicate with in some way at least one of these women – I almost could say not a single day has gone by but I did go to Kazakhstan for 6 weeks during one summer and then I didn’t have the best communication opportunities. I have other wonderful, awesome friends (many of whom are reading this and I hope they know that I love, love, love them, too) and this in no way demeans those friendships that I have with my non-Rooks girls, but something about this group and the time in my life when we became friends means they are precious and sacred to me and beyond blessings in my life – no matter where they are now or how long it has been since we talked – because of them, I am who I am today.
They have seen my worst, pettiest self and still love me. They have stood by me through sadness and tragedy. They have made bad choices right alongside me and laughed with me at life’s absurdities. We have had dance parties in the hallway, endless evenings filled with conversation, desserts and Diet Coke, bridal and baby showers galore and inside jokes that make our husbands roll their eyes. We have celebrated things big and small and cuddled each others’ babies. I refer to them as “Aunt so-and-so” to my kids and I think/hope that their children and my children will treat each other like family as they get older – we have family we are born into and when we are really lucky, we get family we choose as well. Our lives can never be overly filled with people who love us. I pray for friends like these for my own children.
But their impact goes beyond moments and memories; from my favorite people I’ve learned:
- following God’s direction and calling doesn’t always make sense
- sometimes keeping silent is a better choice than speaking your mind
- sometimes you need to speak your mind, despite fearing how the other person will respond
- asking for help is okay, it does not show weakness
- asking others how you can help them is important because sometimes they can’t ask for themselves
- a phone call or a card in the mail for no reason is often God at work and there is great reason for it
- friendships take time and investment but even the passage of time will not ruin true friendships
- I am loved and lovable and have good things to offer the world – they more than cement this knowledge
- you can be overjoyed with your own news and at the same time be totally heartbroken for a friend who is hurt by that news
- it’s more than okay to be ridiculous and do dumb things, to let people see you in your cozies with your zit cream on or hear you sing (out of tune) at the top of your lungs and do stupid dances that make you look less than elegant
- Double Stuff Oreo cookies are the best
- television shows are better-enjoyed with friends
- real friends will still love you when you watch the same clip from a made-for-tv movie over and over again because Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s back is/was hot and, in fact, will watch with you all of those times; they will also cry with you for more minutes than you care to recall after viewing Luke Perry’s movie, “Eight Seconds”
- judgement and mean spirited-ness have no place in friendship
Because of you, I met my husband and have my little boys. From you ladies I’ve learned how to be a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friend. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you if you needed me. Thanks for taking the high school version of myself and helping turn her into the person she is today. Love you, Michelle