A Letter To an Old Friend: I Now Grieve Your Loss.

a letter to an old friend I think of you often. You've been heavy on my heart, these past 5 months. We have seen each other 3 times since walking down the aisle to graduate High School 4 years ago, and friend, I have learned so much since our days together.

Harrisburg High School Graduation, June 10, 2010

You were the first 5th grader to truly acknowledge me as human when I began the life changing adventure of public school in the small grass-seed town of Harrisburg. I had the honor of sitting next to you in Mr. Bower's class room. You told me to study and learn and challenge my brain, which was never my forte. And still isnt. But thank you for trying in those past times.

Since that first day in Mr. Bowers class room all those years ago, we have shared many memories. We have walked through many darknesses together, celebrated many victories, too. Through the awkward years of middle school and on into the daunting years of high school. It wasn't until this January when the weight of influence we had in one another's life hit me.

Friend; You were my closest ally. Not only did you fully embrace me and my unrendered style, always mismatched and trying to be "different", you also remained my friend when I chose to wear zip off short-pants. Thank you. You were there for me through the thickness of the dark nights, when no one else seemed to be. You let me sleep on your floor when home seemed too uncomfortable, you let me eat your food when I had none, and when you got your license before me, you drove me to work a few times when my parent flaked on me was unable to. You rooted me on in school and sports, we were softball buddies. You invited me to parties, to which some I went to via lying {gasp}, but never did you make me feel bad about not choosing to smoke or drink or sleep with a boy. You never shamed me for that, even when all others did. You simply invited me to be with me, to experience life with me. And you were loyal. The most loyal of all.

You avoided all topics regarding Jesus. Many times you abrasively told me not to invite you to my "church crap." It was cool for me, but not for you. You made that clear. Looking back, I pray earnestly that I somehow revealed Jesus in a beautiful way that He should have been. He is so real, so worth it, so necessary for a full life. He is so in love with you and with me and He wants to cover us in His graces.

I remember when we were 15. Neither of us had our license yet and I had moved 20 miles out of town. Late into the school night, you called me crying, asking if I could find a way into town to be with you. I did, I found a way, despite my mom's belief that we were up to mischief. I remember so clearly being dropped off behind the middle school under the shelter of the cement basketball court. I remember seeing you perched up against the wall, knees drawn to your chest. I felt nervous because I was normally the broken, fragile, "weak" girl in the equation. This was so out of your seemingly-confident character. But as your loyal friend, I sat with you.

There, sitting on that cement ground, you shared with me through a shaky voice that you had had sex with your secret 18 year old boyfriend, who happened to be your brothers best friend. There, you sat ashamed and broken and confused and lost...neither of us knew that sex is so much more than a mere physical act. Why did this feel so confusing? Why did you feel like you had lost something? You love him and you want to be with him, but you feel so shameful for giving yourself to him...I remember you needing to find a way into Eugene to get the day after pill.

I remember holding you. And we cried together.

I remember the shame I had heard from other Christians about sex-before-marriage. I didn't want to shame you because it didn't feel natural, it didn't feel right. I am so grateful I stuck to my God-given-instincts.

Friend. So many years ago, all I knew was to hold you in those moments of brokenness. I knew that's what I wanted in my times of brokenness - not correction or rebuke, simply a gentle love. I am so grateful you offered that to me on many occasions - never did you condemn or rebuke me. Never did I try to tell you "you weren't following rules or living right," and I am so thankful.

Looking back, I realize that though our hearts were not on the same path towards Jesus, we do share a few similarities in our hearts:

To hug and love and quietly hold someone in their brokenness and shame and mistakes is much more powerful and much more useful than a hard rebuke of not "living right." I thank you for modeling Jesus in that way, even when you didn't mean to nor would you admit that. But surely, I tell you, that is His heart too.

Our bodies are holy, and sex is intimate, so precious, the fully-giving of ourselves. And when not seen as sacred, but as a mere form of simple affection for anyone, we experience a deep loss. And it's confusing, especially to those who were never told of it's sacred power.

Friend, I am so deeply grieved at the loss you felt that night and for the many months to follow. I remember a few conversations we had subsequently. I remember the deep emptiness that shouted from your core, the deep emptiness you tried to ignore and cover and deny. I am sad and grieved that your first moments of fully giving your body {and your soul..so much more} to a man boy wasn't in a covenant relationship that would remain forever, and wasn't precious or sacred as it was made to be. You joined a boy in the deepest way humanly, spiritually, possible, in a way that doesn't line up with the way you were created to. I now {slightly} understand a little deeper the loss you endured.. But not fully. And I grieve.

A part of you was literally torn from yourself and resides outside of you, and you no longer get to be a part of it.. it is an odd thing. It's like you're forever naked to him, not just physically, but to your core. It is a broken experience. I wish I could fix it. But I can't.You are more, Friend. You are so much more than he and many others have made you out to be. You are more then flesh, despite what your hardened heart may tell you to believe.I want to tell you that it's okay to break and cry and hurt and grieve, it is okay to admit the very real-ness of agony. And that we had no idea what a deep, intimate thing sex was at the age of 15. I want to tell you that you can't heal alone, you can't become whole by yourself or by burying this deeper into yourself.

Friend, there is always hope for redemption. There is always hope for restoration. There is ALWAYS hope for wholeness. But none of those things will happen except through Jesus Christ as Savior, and Lord. When we choose to stand on His truth, we get to shake off all shame and condemnation (Romans 8:1). And how deeply I yearn that for you. How much I wish I had known and experienced the healing power of Jesus that I have since. How deeply I yearn to share with you miraculous stories of people's redemption. Beauty from the darkest ashes. But I will trust the Holy Spirit I carried in those days and trust that God is doing His own work within you.

Thank you for being loyal through the thickness of my darkest years, where I was real ugly. Thank you for being honest even when I preferred you weren't - what are true friends for? Thank you for always offering a floor to sleep on. Thank you for modeling Jesus in ways that you would never have tried or meant to... You haven't claimed Him and accepted His offer of grace yet, but I still pray for you. I still think of you, hoping and claiming that I will share in the fullness of His life with you.

Love you always and through all of our mistakes,

Natalie

--- Listen to a message from Mike Miller on sex that really lines up with my heart. Click HERE and find Once Upon A Marriage 3/9/2014. You won't regret it.

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