An open letter to the hurting tribe.

My dearest tribe,

You have ached and longed and prayed and cried and rejoiced and danced and sat with me in my deepest sorrows and highest joys. I could not have made it these last 33 years without you. Last week I was both saddened and overjoyed to return the favor.

Every text, every phone call, every email. All sorrow. Empty bank accounts, empty hearts, broken marriages, broken bodies, ruined dreams. So much pain you laid in my lap, in my ears, and in my heart. I have prayed for you, cried for and with you, and sat pondering late into the night how best to address your stories in this season. In the moments last week, I had no words. This letter is for you.

You, my dear, are beautiful. You are loved. You are worthy. You are known. You are strong. You are brave. You have the strength to be kind and to do the right thing. I won’t tell you what that is exactly. I know that my telling you won’t mean anything. You have to learn for yourself. Some lessons need to stick. Know that I am here for you. Know that I am not judging you when you call and tell me outrageous stories. I’m listening. I’m thinking. I’m praying. But I’m not judging. I want what is best for you. I want good things for you. I want joy and self-discovery and little victories for you. You are so worth it, my dear.

You, friend, are gonna be alright. I know you don’t know that just yet. I know that the weight of old things and the burden of caring for yourself have proven overwhelming, but I believe you will get through this as you have gotten through so many other things. May your lungs draw in nothing but fresh breaths and may the old things fall away. Square your shoulders, engage in the care you desperately need and have long sought, and forget what other people say. You are your own worst enemy. Now is the time to rise up and be your own best friend. I’ve got your back. So do a lot of other folks. You can do this. I believe in you.

You have been in my tribe a long time. You have had my back, defended me, protected me, and encouraged me. Guess what? I have your back, too. I’m here for you. I may not be there in body, but I am there in spirit. You are brave, little one. So very brave. And you can move mountains. You know your purpose and deep down you know those things to which you have been called. Set the world on fire. Go forth boldly and without reservation. You were made for this.

You, darling, are about to go through some hell. I’m fully prepared to go through hell with you. You have so much life ahead of you, and I know you’ll face this with the same determination and grit as you always have. I know you’re scared, even when you won’t admit it. Be scared. Wallow in it if you must. Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t scared, it just means you still move forward despite what you are feeling. You have an entire tribe full of love and laughter and grit just like you. And we are all ready to battle with you. You are not alone.

Oh tribe, I love you. You light up the world with your passion and beauty and grace and joy and the intentional way you go about living. I am honored to hear your stories, to catch your tears, to walk with you when you need me and to step aside when you don’t. I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there. I know the raw wounds you carry. No matter how long it takes you to stand back up, I’m still in awe of you. How brave you are. No matter how weak you feel or ugly you think your life is or how maybe you don’t want to be seen at all, someone is always here to bear witness to your story. Your story matters that much. You are known.

More than that, you are so deeply loved. Beyond measure. Beyond belief. Beyond definition. “Come to Me,” He says, “all you who are weary. And I will give you rest for your souls.” May you rest in that truth tonight. Your life is known and you are loved. Sleep well.