And then I met Howie

This is a tale of two unlikely souls who bonded and became best of friends. We wouldn’t have liked each other in college, or in high school. She’s a hipster artist, I’m a dorky musician. I mean well, but I’m goofy and wear rose-colored glasses. She dedicates her summers to serving others in third world countries and rarely smiles in pictures. She hates to cry or be girly, and I’ll cry at anything, anytime, and wear lots of pink. (At least we both dislike sororities.) Despite our differences, we ended up as fast friends. I suppose spending 12 hours a day together while carpooling, at the office, and beyond does that to fellow spirits. I affectionately dubbed her Howie, and she deemed me worthy to be called Craig, a nickname that only my closest friends will truly understand.

Howie and I are so similar because we are free-bird artists, trapped in a gilded cage of our own fears and expectations. Both of us are extremely talented and passionate about our art, yet we view it from afar and long for it secretly while no one else is looking. Most importantly, and what bonded us most quickly — is that we are both lost.

I don’t mean lost in the spiritual sense; far from it. We are both strong believers in Christ. Our conversations are deep and engaging, ranging from women’s rights in the Christian world to befriending gay colleagues from our colleges of art. She would listen to me spew my thoughts on theology, and gently disagree (or more vehemently remain silent).

Yet there is nothing gentle about my special friend. She is strong, fierce, wise, and really quite a looker. Alabaster skin, blazing red hair, deep green eyes (sorry chaps, she’s married). Howie married her sweetheart in Nicaragua while on a medical missions trip, which is so befitting of both their hearts, and so amazingly unusual. In fact, there’s really nothing normal about Howie at all. I think that’s why I love her so. For all of our rampant conversations, she taught me how to care for others in foreign countries, how to listen to my own voice and judge what is good and right fearlessly. One day, God willing, I will go with her to Nicaragua to care for the people she sheds her blood and tears over. I just have to get over my fear of roaches first. . . (again, I’m working on the fearless part.)

Despite the wisdom we occasionally display, we still stumble into confusion and cry out in our self-inflicted darkness. We are lost because we refuse to accept our truest selves, even though our most intimate loved ones tell us daily what we fail to believe: our art is our gift from God, our passion in caring for others is our calling. And yet — our art is not our identity, and our worth is not wrapped up in it.

So my friend, I am here to tell you that your words of encouragement have lifted me out of confusion and have given me clarity. I once was lost, and then I met you, and you led me by the hand back to my calling. I feel a little less lost because I have you by my side, encouraging me daily to pursue what is worthy, passionate, and right. I so wish I could fill you with confidence the same way you have filled me. I do have something better — I have the Word to back me up on this. He won’t let us stay lost forever.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. — Joshua 1:9

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow
And my years with sighing;
My strength has failed because of my iniquity,
And my body has wasted away. . .

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord,
I say, “You are my God.” — Psalm 31:9-10, 14

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah. — Psalm 62:5-8

Howie, we’re in this together. It’s incredible to think that God saved our friendship for just the perfect time in our lives. If He’s wise enough to do that, then He’s definitely wise enough to lead us where we need to go, even if it takes 40 years in a desert (or, y’know, Tennessee). I love you, sister.

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