I have a friend whose life used to be like a treasured love letter. Each day she'd open up the well creased paper and live out the gentle familiarity with great joy.
Her life read of love, purpose, tradition, stability, respect, and faith. Day by day, layer upon layer her legacy decorated the edges of her love letter with strokes of consistent beauty.
Then one shocking day, she awoke to find that someone she trusted very much had knowingly and willfully torn her love letter in half. Shocked and hurt she asked this someone to tape it back together.
Though the letter would never quite look the same, eventually a heart of forgiveness and eyes of grace allowed her to see the letter as lovely once more.
Her little letter had been through a lot, but, strangely enough, didn't seem as fragile as it had years before. The paper felt more stable then it had ever felt. And she found that good could even come from the rips and tears of life.
Healing days turned into healing years and soon the paper's scar faded so much you could hardly tell it had been torn.
There was joy. But then sorrow returned.
One morning she awoke to find her letter missing. Frantic and desperate she threw open her front door gasping for air. And there, to her great horror, she saw bits and pieces of her letter swirling and being carried away in the wind. Her letter, her life, everything precious and seemingly protected, was never to be the same again.
This time it wasn't just tattered and torn. It was shredded beyond repair.
She collapsed in a heap of tears. Grief like she'd never known overtook her. She went to bed and thought she'd stay there forever.
The days were suddenly dark. The nights were way too long. The hours seemed to creep along in torturous spans. Each minute so painful she wondered how much longer her heart could continue its beat by beat rhythm.
Then one day she willed herself out of bed. Maybe it was the longing for her letter of old. Maybe it was wishful thinking. Maybe it was the purest form of raw hope. She walked outside among the pieces and parts of her life's letter.
Ragged edges on each torn piece spoke loudly of the state of the circumstances she couldn't escape. But looking closely, she discovered something wondrous. Though the torn apart letter couldn't be read in sentences and paragraphs, the individual words were still clear.
Piece by piece she picked up the fragments of paper and read them one word at a time. So many of the words were glorious. Absolutely glorious. Her life was still there.
And though the letter would never be read exactly the same as it had, for the first time in a long while she saw beauty. Gathering the pieces together, she starting lining them up in rows. Old words- new sentences.
The letter of her life took on a new meaning. All the truth that seemed to be shredded with the old letter, was still there.
Truth still meant truthful. Full of truth.
Grace still meant graceful. Full of grace.
Joy still meant joyful. Full of joy.
And beauty still meant beautiful. Full of beauty.
Which is exactly what God kept whispering to her but she couldn't seem to understand how anything so broken could ever be made whole again.
Sometimes whole doesn't mean put back together the exact right way. For if someone discovers fullness within each broken piece, each part takes on a wholeness of its own.
So, for the first time in a long while she smiled. And while she never thought she could be happy with a letter read in pieces one word at a time, she found the fullness in each word and rediscovered her life.
She closed every door to her old life, picked up her pieces, and in complete fullness walked on.