This letter was written by Virginia Gustafson, a leader in Raleigh, NC. She gave it to her high school friends that are graduating this year. You can find more of her writing here.
Dear Sweet and Beautiful Friend,
You have no idea what a gift it is to be your friend, what a gift it has been for me to meet and get to know you over the past four years. I thank God over and over again for YOU. Your laughter, your thoughts, boldness, mistakes, failures, fears, successes, and triumphs have all been a joy for me to be a part of. Thanks for sharing your high school experience and time at
Drive with me.
Thanks for not being too weirded out four years ago when a strange college student talked to you in the cafeteria, in the carpool line after school, or at some random sports game. What's crazy and incredible to me, is that on that day, each of those new and awkward introductions were ordained by God, and now, those "random" encounters have turned into lifelong friendships.
Please know that I will forever love each and every one of you, and I will forever be praying that the Lord would continue to reveal his love to you. And know I will forever be calling and texting you, and that I plan to keep up our annual thanksgiving dinners where we can all reunite, share life, and eat good food for years to come!
Now, as you head off to college and to be adults, on your own, making decisions for yourselves, I want you to know a few things, things I hope you never ever forget (which is why I'm writing it here for you to find and read forever and whenever). These are things that I’ve learned in life thus far. They are truths that have changed me from the inside out, truths I constantly remind myself of, and they are true for you too.
1. You are loved beyond measure. You are loved not because of anything you have done or will do, not because you have earned it or deserved it, not because of the way you look or how you dress, not because of your academic, athletic, or social performance, but YOU
ARE LOVED because
you are the beloved and beautiful daughter of God. He created you; He has
given you value, and His love for you will never waiver. He will never ever
stop loving you, He will never give up on you, and He cares for you more
than anything else in all creation.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“You are my beloved Son (or daughter); with you I am well pleased.”
2. You were born to live a full life with Jesus. If I have learned one thing over the past four years, it is that God’s plan is way bigger and way better than anything I could plan or imagine for myself. It’s scary to trust God and live life building and growing a relationship with a God you can’t always see or feel, but I promise that living life with Jesus is the best adventure you could ever have. Life is hard, and I would not have survived all life’s struggles and hardships without Him. He is the only one who has brought real joy, laughter, and hope out my life’s hardest struggles and pain; He wants to do the same for you and with you. Talk to him (pray), continue to read about his life and how he interacted with the people around him, and don’t forget that he wants to be a part of your life; he will always be there for you to turn to.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Jesus speaking in John 10:10
3. You are imperfect and you will fail. It’s true, no matter how hard you try to be the perfect student, friend, girlfriend, sister, daughter, athlete, and one-day wife and mom, it will never happen. You will never have your life all together, but that’s okay. You, my dear sweet friend, were not made to be perfect; you were not created to have it all together. One of my favorite authors, Emily Freeman, says it beautifully, “You are not responsible to have it all together. You are free to respond to the One who holds all things in his hands.” Find freedom in knowing that you will never be perfect but that Jesus was and is, and He willingly shares His perfection with you. Rest in Him. Trust Him. He is the perfect one, after all.
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep doing.”
4. God has more grace and love for you than you have the ability to sin and reject him. God’s love for you is beyond compare; there is nothing as strong, as powerful, as confident, or as permanent as God’s love for you. And in his love there is grace. That means that God knows the worst of the worst things you have done and will do. He knows about when you betrayed your friends, your family, Him; He knows when you lie, cheat, steal, and disobey. He knows when you choose your own selfish desires over the feelings of others, and He has already forgiven you. He has already paid the penalty for all of the crappy things you have done and will do (a.k.a. your sin) with His death on the cross. Why? So he can be in a relationship with you, so you don’t have to be perfect anymore, and so you can rest and just live and enjoy life with him. Ladies, this is the greatest love story ever, this Man did and will do anything and everything to capture your attention and your heart. Give your heart to Him! He will take better care of it than any other boy on the earth.
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
“For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.”
5. You are the Lord's. He did it all just for you; he came to earth, died on a cross, raised from death to bring you hope and prove His power. He created you in your mother’s womb, loved you before you breathed your first breath and has called you his precious daughter. He is working constantly for you, to bring you life, freedom, hope and joy. He wants to bring peace out of the war in your life, joy out of the sorrow, and love out of the hate. He wants to walk with you into the Promised Land, all you have to do is trust and walk with him. Let him fight for you. Let him bring hope and light and true beauty into your life.
“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Jesus speaking in John 16:33
So dear, sweet, and beautiful friends, this is why and how I have been able to love you over the past four years. Jesus' love changed my life; He alone gave me the boldness and courage to talk to you on that random (but perfectly ordained) day. He gave me all the love, life, joy and kindness to share with you. He gave me the strength to wake up early and bring donuts to you at because he wanted YOU to know that you are worth it. You are worth being celebrated and being known. He wanted you to feel love, life, joy and kindness, and what a gift it has been for me, that I was chosen by him for this task.
I also want to leave y’all with one of my favorite phrases of all time. I want to share it with you because you are starting a time in your life where you will have more freedom, time, and energy than you have ever known, and it will certainly be tempting to chase after boys, partying, success, and all sorts of other appealing "college adventures." But y'all, life is too short to chase after anything but Jesus. He is the only thing that will bring you real, lasting, and satisfying joy, comfort, peace, freedom, and life. Just think, me choosing to chase after him is what brought our friendship in the first place, and ladies, our friendship is the best college adventure and gift I could have ever asked for.
With Love (and a large chunk of my heart),