Exactly three months ago, I wrote an open letter to you. Fall was in full swing, and like the changing of the leaves, weather, and seasons, a lot has changed for you since then. The truth is, Lance, a lot has changed for me too. Time is the ultimate healer. That seems to always prove true. Time and time again.
When I last wrote an open letter to you, I had no idea where you were. I was terrified. And when you finally were found…I was convinced it could very much stand to be the last time I saw you face to face.
In my last letter, I begged you to save your life. And when I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, I turned to song lyrics once again.
Remember that old 90’s song? Jumper? Here’s the version I listened to at least a million times:
Because here’s the thing Lance, when I wasn’t sure what would happen to you, I knew begging for your life would likely be a fruitless endeavor. So I turned to my heart and found lyrics (yet again) that expressed a deep desire for you to see yourself for exactly who you are.
I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend, you could cut ties with all the lies you’ve been living in…and if you do not want to see my again, I would understand.
The angry boy a bit too insane, I sing over a secret pain. You know you don’t belong.
I know something’s wrong.
Everyone I know has got a reason to say, PUT THE PAST AWAY
Lance. Sweet brother Lance, it’s with innumerable joy I find myself writing to you again. Three months have passed, and I can feel your life being slowly, intentionally emptied of everything you are not, and filled with the man, the spirit, and the brother I have always known. The Lord is working in you; stirring His grace in you, and it moves me to tears.
We spoke a couple weeks ago over the phone. You had just moved into the next phase of your program and for the first time I heard you tell me,
“I just know it’s not something I can do myself. I have to give it to Jesus.”
Do you realize how miraculous that statement is?
And Lancey, do you realize the effect that your story, your testimony HAS HAD on other people? It’s only the beginning, but if you accept and live out that truth, your life will never be the same.
I can say this, I think, with full authority because in the last three months, like you, I’ve had my life rocked. I shared with you my story, sweet brother, and you can see how all of us can be encapsulated in the lyrics in the song above. I have started being honest about where I have been and not afraid to proclaim that I don’t know how my life will piece together in the end. Being honest, allows us to be human. Cutting those ties with lies allows Jesus to work. He will say to you and me, yes, now I can use you. Your testimony holds no power if you aren’t willing to own it, and move forward.
I do not think anyone knows what they are doing here. I never thought it would come to this.
I want you to know: everyone has got to face down the demons. Maybe today you can put the past away.
I was holding onto the song above and thinking about you so often, but I think I was singing the very words to myself too.
I had kept a very important piece of my own struggles, questions and doubt in my mind. But wouldn’t you agree: that’s exactly the opposite of what Jesus wants from us.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
Let him confront me!
It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.
Who is he that will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.
We are not alone, Lance. And crazy enough, our lives are paralleling at exactly the same time. I have been a Christian for a while, but just like you, I’m finally letting Jesus in. Submitting. Throwing down the burdens. Ain’t got no time for that.
So, Lance, I guess this letter is far less of a letter of desperation and uncertainty. It’s a letter of hope and gratitude. I have hope for us in this upcoming year. Without question – and I think you would agree – 2014 was the hardest year of my life. I wandered, I was isolated, and I carried deep wounds. However, healing has come. Is coming. Miraculous things continue to filter in to both of our lives when we take the freedom that is offered to both of us.
I need you to keep moving forward, to continually bask in Christ’s love for you. I need this, because it helps me to do the same. We are so dearly loved, my brother, and there is nothing that will change that.
That’s my biggest request of you right now.
My biggest piece of unwarranted sisterly advice?
Ignore any label, box, limitation, or identity that someone tries to place on you. The ONLY identity you need, Lance, is to be a child of God. Therein lies your value. Promise me that you will remember that.
To that end, filter out any plan, destination, or “place” that you think you need to be at this point in your life. Those, too, are lies of the world. Lance, to experience recovery fully, I think you have to do that for yourself. I know in my experience, in order to move forward healthily and in acceptance of mercy, you must not subscribe to what the world wants from you. If you do, the powers, principalities, and spirits of Satan will win.
I humbly get off my soapbox.
Lance last week I was sharing a meal with some new Rwandan friends and I shared a little bit about the recent empowerment you are experiencing in your life. These new friends smiled and said with great conviction, we will pray. And God will provide.
At a Thanksgiving meal shared with my new church friends, I met someone who not only did the program you are in, but completed it and is now living a life in the fullness of what God has led him to be.
At an Ugly Sweater Party I went to this last week, my mentor and another friend also confirmed the fact that they have been unceasingly praying for you and that feelings of restoration have come to their hearts.
Whether at the table with the church, with friends, or in the presence of family, you are truly being backed with love, support, and strength. Know this in your weaker moments and never fear reaching out for the people that love you most. More than that, know you can always call upon Jesus and the Holy Spirit will comfort you.
I love you Lance. I’m so proud of you. Let’s continue this great journey together.