dear brian, katie, elliot, ryan, jayda, kristen, nikki, kevin, stefan, andrew, abby, riely, andrea, kaci, karson, laura, arielle, kaitlyn, krista, cherub grace, carly, kacey, and sami :
tomorrow you’re boarding a plane and you’re coming home. you’re coming back to all of the things you left behind. you’re trading in your backpacks for full closets and you’re broken mattress pads for queen sized beds with fresh sheets. you’ll hand in your less than stellar diets of mostly rice and beans for an equally less than stellar diet but now it will consist of whatever you want. don’t try to make up for all of the chick fil a you missed your first week home. just don’t.
you’re returning to see all of the friends and family you left behind nine months ago. you’ve missed holidays, birthdays, graduations, babies being born. you’ve had days where you wanted nothing more than to be on your own couch, eating your mama’s home cooking and clicking through the channels with your closest friends. and you’ve had days where you forgot you were sleeping on the floor with people you barely knew. because somehow, it all starts to feel like home.
right now, you’re caught smack dab in the bittersweet. i get it. really, i do.
as you come home and you transition into whatever the next season is, let me offer you a few things :
you’re not the same people you were. you’re not boys and girls wandering around the world. you are sure footed men and women who have unveiled a bit more of their identity. don’t forget that. and walk confidently in who you’ve been made to be. but keep in mind that everyone has been watching as closely as possible, which is still from a distance when you’re on opposite sides of the world. have some patience with your friends and family and don’t become arrogant because “they just don’t get it.” give away the same kind of grace that people have given you.
generally speaking, people here practice pretty good hygiene. please jump back on that wagon. the showers are hot now, so there is really no excuse.
focus on what you’re thankful for. as you process the last nine months; the places you have been and the people you have encountered you’ll realize that not every bit of it was a bed of roses. that’s okay. that’s life. don’t dwell on all of the things you wish had been different. don’t wonder about the what might have beens. take your entire experience and be grateful. while you’re at it, stand on some chairs and shout about what you’re thankful for. we’ve all learned that it makes all the difference.
get some sleep. seriously. you’re tired. take a nap. or two.
remember that you are not alone. jesus is with you and all of that. yes. but you are each surrounded by friends and families that love you and have missed you like crazy. and now, as cheesy as it sounds, you’ve got a whole slew of new friends and family that also aren’t going anywhere. you’re not abandoned or forgotten. you are loved.
okay, i’m out of wisdom. at least for today.
i love each of you deeply. i am beyond proud of you for how you have served the nations and each other so well.
you have two days left. don’t get into any trouble now, kapeesh?