I created the heavens. Look up with me. Do you see it? That star, burning far in the distance, reminds me of you. When I first placed it in the sky, I knew you would be here, so I modeled its interstellar dance after your fire and passion. It now dances through the darkness and void and lights up the space around it. Just like you.
My precious star, before you were formed, I knew all about you. I knew about your beautiful smile and tender heart. Your quick temper and your quiet insecurity. Your impatience and your vanity. Your good humor and your strength. I held you in my arms a long time before letting you go. Ages, in fact. The angels sang around you as my Son and I kissed you on the forehead and sent you to earth with our Spirit.
Sweet child of mine, I cherish you. I revel in you daily. When I look at you, my heart swells with pride and I sing of you to all the hosts of heaven. Remember this. Please remember this. You were created with a purpose, with a calling, with my love. And I give you all my love, freely and happily.
Take that love, darling. Use it. Use it when you see your sisters grieving or your brothers fighting. Use it when someone hurts you, when someone calls you names or steals your joy. Use it when you can’t possibly take one more step on the path of righteousness because you’re worn out, abused, used and frustrated. Use it because it is I who makes you righteous. And when you can’t stand anymore, I will make you stand.
I will never leave you or forsake you. How could I? You are made in my image. Think about that, child. You. Are. Made. In. My. Image.
The image of holiness.
You were made to be so much more than you are now, and as you press on to meet me face-to-face, person-to-person, do not forget the Holy-you. That part that lives deep inside and cries out at every injustice, every prejudice, every war, every argument, every divorce and division and dissent, and says, “Stop.”
When I brought love into the picture, I abolished hate. When I brought truth into the picture, I abolished falsehood. When I brought humility into the picture, I abolished arrogance. And as much as I love you, and will continue to love you, it grieves me to see you struggle, fight, and contend with my Image. And in the end, you will lose. You will lose your friends, your family, yourself and, ultimately, your life.
My love, look around you. You may not be able to tell through your tired eyes, but there is a great cloud of witnesses watching overhead. They tell you to press on because it is worth it. Hear their voices, shouting words of encouragement and exclamations of praise. “Way to go!” “You can do it!” “Keep the faith!” It will be that faith that brings you through the difficult places. Faith is being sure of my voice, and certain of my presence. Faith knows that, no matter what, I work with you to bring Good into this world.
So let’s bring that Good, beloved. It will be hard but don’t worry, I’m right here beside you. To be honest, this is what I lived and died and rose for. To stand with you as we work to make things right. So shrug off that timidity you dress in every morning. Burn that bitterness and judgment you wear daily and instead, put on my armor. It’s ready for you at all times–shiny, new, and eager for battle.
Use the sword of my Spirit to slay the giants of oppression and wrongdoing.
Wear the helmet of salvation with pride, for I crafted that with my blood, sweat, and tears.
My breastplate of righteousness, which I offer freely to you, will cover your heart forever, no matter where you stumble.
Buckle your belt, speaking the truth in love and faith.
Shield yourself with that faith, for Satan has offered a huge price for your head and wants more than anything to catch you unguarded.
And finally, as you prepare your feet for the day you make it Home, put on the shoes of good news. May you walk and never weary.
Rest in me, sweet one. Rest in my grace. Take as long as you need.
Look at me. You are loved. You are worth it. You are chosen.
Go. Go out, and tell my children I’m here. Show them the way home.
I’ll be waiting with open arms.
Kaitlin Shetler received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Harding University in 2009 and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Tennessee in 2010. She currently serves as the director of the ACCESS Ability program at Lipscomb University and is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). Kaitlin has over twelve years experience working with at-risk populations, including survivors of domestic abuse, older adults, and the disabled. She lives in Hermitage, TN, with her brilliant husband and sweet baby girl and attends Hermitage Church of Christ, a community that has welcomed her with open arms and little to no eye rolling. Her passion is working alongside people to better the church and the world through advocacy, service, and dismantling oppressive systems. She often speaks and writes on feminism, abuse, disability, race, and sexual assault within church contexts.