Nearly eleven years ago, I arrived in this storm-ravaged town, a spunky spirited twenty-something, ready to make a difference. This city, its people, its culture, took root in my heart, and I would never be the same. I learned so much about myself, about other people, and about this city and its drive to survive.
Three years later, I left the city, broken, battered, storm-ravaged myself. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be back, that I ever *could* come back.
Eight years passed, years filled with healing and tears and growth and love. and you. All of you. Eight years-an eternity and a blink of an eye.
I can’t put into words the emotions I felt while standing here, in this beloved city, once again. “I’m here. I’m back. For a moment. I have made it.” I had weathered this storm, the worst storm in my life, up to now, (there have been some bad storms in my life, people). It is over, it is behind me. It has helped shape me. I am neither that spunky, spirited twenty-something, nor the broken, battered, barely-there woman that left this city. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be, happier than my sad-self ever dreamed possible.
None of this is because of me alone, but because of God. His grace abounds, his forgiveness heals, his love overwhelms. Because of this, because of Him, I stand here, in one of my favorite places, creating new memories, remembering the good memories, and rejoicing that He can make the bad memories not hurt as much.
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