Dear 20-Something,

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I see you. 

I see all of you. I see your heart. You and I would probably have pretty similar Instagram bios about how we love Jesus and tacos. 

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I see the way you have a vision for your family to get better. I see that tiny glimmer of hope for a marriage so strong and vibrant that people write articles about it. I even see your longing for someone to send you a text just to check on you today. 

I see the part of you that craves impact. You want to make a difference...fill a cup, change a heart, save a life.

I see your get-it-done side that gets there on time and stays late to clean up. 

I see you singing in the car, silently blessing a stranger, meeting a need, bouncing a baby, paying for a meal. 

I see those equal parts of reluctance and joy you feel packing up to go home for the weekend because family time isn't all laughs and hugs. 

In fact, I see those people, maybe even the ones who share your last name, who were supposed to love you, but didn't. They were supposed to be there for you, show up for you, but somehow, they were just...absent.

And what your heart heard when they didn't come through for you?
I hear that. 

Something about me is missing. 
I'm less than what it takes to make it all okay.
I'm more trouble than anyone signed up for.

I see the part of your heart you keep in a box on a shelf because he chose you, but he changed his mind. Or maybe he never chose you at all, and now your expectations are what you'd define as 'much more realistic' because next time it won't hurt so bad if someone walks out - they won't have ever seen that box of your truest self on the shelf, anyway.

I see you scroll through Facebook and wish your countenance truly reflected those happy images because even Likes don't lift the rain cloud.

I see you scroll through Instagram and hold up a tape measure to your own abilities and wonder what it would take to make your inside match their outside.

I see you mapping out a future in your head. One foot here in the present and one foot in a bigger house, skinnier body, better job. But with your feet in two places it's awful hard to walk forward into today.

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I see your gifts. Your writing, your voice, your passion to teach, to lead, to come alongside. Feeling the burden of waiting for

some job,
some man,
some life

...to find you, to pick you, to invite you on a beautiful adventure.

Today you find yourself standing in a life that doesn't have an answer to all those defining questions. 

What kind of person are you?
What's your character?
What's your career?
Who did you marry?

The answers to these questions feel like missing subjects in a painting about your life, and honestly, painting the background is starting to get a little old. You're unsure what you even want the finished product to look like, or if you'll even like it at all when it's finished.

I want to meet you right here. In the already and the not yet. In the moments of waiting, cautiously hoping and anxiously praying. 

I want to sit with you in front of your canvas and ask you questions.
I know what this painting can be. 

But so does someone else. And he wants to smudge the strokes  and dry out the acrylics and convince you that maybe it's not so much of a painting as it is a big mess. 

This will never be in a gallery, it's already too ordinary, too dull, too gray, who would ever choose this painting?
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But I know the Artist. His voice doesn't sound like that. Never has. 

He stretched the canvas across its frame and ground the powder to make the paints. He chose to place by the window to do his work, and the day to start. 

He knows the end from the beginning and the one thing he'll do is finish. 

And maybe the enemy sees glimpses of the finished product, too. 

Maybe those creeping doubts you feel have more to do with you might become than they do with who are right this minute. 

The painter isn't finished. 

He's barely even started. 

So maybe I can grab your hand and take you to a house. It has a wide porch and a heavy door and fountain out back. And through the bright foyer and past heavy furniture, there's a painting over the fireplace. It's bold and draws you in. 

The Artist doesn't just want to finish your painting, he wants to build a life and a much bigger purpose around the person you're discovering your already are, around those first few strokes. 

So today, let's sit alone in front of that unfinished painting on the easel next to the open window. Let's settle our souls on the sight of open cans of paint and the smells of progress, and let's wait with confidence for the Artist to do his best work, at his steady, purpose-filled pace, trusting that He will be called Faithful and True, and looking ahead, we can hear him say, 

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It is good.

It is finished.

It is mine.

Holy Spirit, be gentle and complete and give us the strength to see ourselves as whole, right in this moment, yet hopeful for your plans ahead. Give us the wisdom to lower the volume on our own desire for control and our propensity towards feeling forgotten and afraid that what's ahead might be a disappointment. We need the fullest measure of your grace to embrace the women we are right now, and the women we will be, in you, Together. 

 

 

I believe in the person you're discovering you were made to be.
XOXO, 

Elena Balkcom

Photography in this post credited to Hannah Forsberg from our collaborative work you can see published right here in Southeastern Bride.

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