Dear Reader

Dear Reader,
I would like to offer you a story: There was once a tiny turtle who lived in a still, peaceful pond. The tiny turtle was careful to keep her shell in pristine condition, because the thing she loved most was when others noticed how good and how strong she looked. With every praise, she felt unique, special, and in need of more. She began to spend more time caring for her shell than any other part of her. Soon, her inner body became covered with wounds and sores.

“It’s alright, as long as I’ve got my shell and a smile, I will be fine.”

But she started hiding from others for fear they would see her wounds. She withdrew from her friends, maintaining a safe distance, because she just wanted them to see her strong, beautiful shell. And do you know what happened to that tiny turtle? She died.

It’s not hard to see the moral of this story, and it wasn’t my intention that it should be. In the time and culture we live in, so many are so concerned with outward appearance, the deeper matters of the heart and soul are neglected. It is much easier to present the world with your strongest, most beautiful self, no matter how fake it may be. But chances are, by virtue of you being old enough to read this letter, you have discovered the world can be incredibly painful, and may have even left you deeply wounded, perhaps wondering if it’s even possible for such aching, such pain, such longing to ever heal.

I would now like to offer you a second story: A long time ago, a man and a woman walked through a garden accompanied by the Being Who Created them. Surprisingly, this Being, though all-powerful, showed great care for them and made sure they had everything they could need. But the three were not alone in the garden. There was an enemy there too. The enemy crept his was in and whispered to the woman a single lie, “This is not enough. YOU are not enough.”

This lie put into motion irreversible actions that betrayed and broke the heart of the Being Who Created and caused the man and woman to be severed from Him forever. Generations later, men and women were still trying to earn back the love of the Being, and He desperately wanted them back too. Remembering the precious days in the garden, the Being broke off a Piece of Himself and sent the Piece down to walk among the people, teach them, and heal them. Some loved the Piece sent by the Being, others rejected Him. Some even tortured and killed Him, but the Being was not to be stopped by something as trivial as death. He rose the Piece of Himself back to life, and proved to all the people they had nothing to fear anymore, not even death. All they had to do was accept Him, and everyone could have the kind of relationship with Him that the man and the woman did way back in the garden.

The meaning of this story is also not intended to be difficult to understand, but I don’t want you to misunderstand it either. God did not promise a life free of pain. To quote Westley from Princess Bride, “Life is pain, anyone who says differently is selling something.” God sent His son Jesus to set you free from your wounds, your screaming pain, those fears that make peaceful sleep impossible for you. Jesus is the one and the only thing in this world worth coming out of your shell for. Please, please do not neglect the care of your soul. Faith in Jesus will give hope that there is something beyond the wounds. He will hold you when everything shatters. When you’re sitting on your floor, head on your knees, face drenched in tears in your desperate search for answers because you just can’t stuff it all down in your shell anymore, there is Jesus. Jesus heals. Jesus breaks through and is strong enough to carry you, heal you, and lift you up and restore you. Dear reader, Jesus is it. What I’m talking about is not just outward or surface level.

Now here is my call to action, then I will leave you to ponder and go about your day. Depending on your situation, you may need to seek counsel from a good physician and/or therapist. By all means, do that! But even when therapy is going extraordinarily well and your meds are perfectly adjusted, there will still be a “you” inside. And that “you” will find everything to be completely meaningless, completely worthless, and utterly empty if you are without a relationship with your Creator. My call to action is simply this: invite Jesus to be in your life. Even if you’ve never prayed before, tell Him all about your mess and your hurts and your worries and ask Him to fill you with hope and peace instead. Even if you’ve prayed a thousand times before, ask Him to renew your flame of passion and make your hardened, calloused heart soft and alive again. The truth to counteract the enemy’s lie is this: I am not enough, nor will I ever be. But Jesus is, and I rely fully on Him for my strength, my hope, and for my every breath. After you pray, I’d like you to tell one person, someone you can be 100% real with, what’s going on with you and what you just prayed. I encourage you to be as vulnerable as you need to be. If you don’t feel like you have anyone, you can email me: johanna.lynne@gmail.com.

You do not have to go on any longer faking it under the beautiful illusion of a strong exterior. It is possible to be clean and beautiful in your deepest, most secret parts as well. While we were drowning in an overwhelmed, terrifying frenzy, Jesus lovingly extended His hand and offered rescue. Accept the rescue.
Dear Reader, may you learn to walk in peace and find everlasting joy today.

With all my heart,
Johanna

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