It’s Andy. I know its been a long time since we’ve spoken but I wanted to reach out to you and tell you a few things that have been on my heart lately. I know that when we last spoke it was painfully awkward and cut short, and that is because of the self righteousness in my heart that told me I somehow knew better than you. I know now how wrong that was. When we left the Lighthouse LITTLE group, it was for completely ill-informed and prideful reasons. I am not shifting the blame on others, because we thought we were doing the right thing. We truly did. We were arrogant kids who were taught to think that the church is an “ultimate authority” over a person’s spiritual life, and that “good Christians” ought to have an “authority” figure over them other than Christ Himself, despite what Paul says about this in Romans.
We accused you of what I have only ever known to be rumors that we could not verify – and did not make any effort to verify- before simply pointing the finger of blame at you. For a few years after, I was bitter towards you, thinking that you were wrong, and that you reacted poorly by kicking us out and banning us from ever coming back. I can see now that you were hurt by our accusations. You were hurt because you truly loved us. You loved me. You sacrificed yourself to lead me and guide me to do the things you truly believed were from God. And I completely took it for granted. You were a father figure to me during a time when my father wasn’t able to be, and although I was grateful for your mentorship, I never realized the significance of that role until now.
Now, when it’s too late.
But I am grateful for your leadership and mentorship, even though I didn’t realize how much I needed it back then. And I so badly needed it. Despite my young, dumb self choosing to chase things that didn’t matter, you always strove to teach me what it means to give of yourself, and how to love others for the sake of loving them. You lived that out on a daily basis in your own neighborhood, and everybody knew they could always count on you to be there to help them if they needed it.
And we paid that unconditional love back by taking the word of somebody who claimed they knew things about you, and spit in your face with it. For that I am truly sorry.
There was some level of Devine intervention in that decision, though. I went on to meet a girl later that year after leaving the LITTLE group. She was everything I had ever dreamed of finding in a woman: she taught me more about God, religion, Scripture, and living out my faith than I ever would have imagined. She helped to open my eyes to the truth of God’s word and the practical ways in which He calls us to live it out. If I had continued to be involved with the LITTLE group on a Saturday nights, though, we likely would not have met when we did, because it was a Saturday night when we met. We only met that night because a friend invited me to go to a movie with him, his brother, and his “friend,” who turned out to be Kayla. I only accepted his invitation because I had no plans after work that Saturday, which was still a strange transition for me to shift my brain into even 4 months later. We were engaged less than a year later, and married only a year and a half after meeting. We now have two incredible kids, and you would absolutely adore them, I’m sure. I often thought I would one day bring them all out to Lake Hills to meet you. I wish my kids could have gotten to know you and be loved by you the way that you loved me.
I ran into your wife about a year ago. I saw her at Walmart on De Zavala. I asked her how you were doing and if you were still ministering to the youth out there in Lakehills. Did she ever tell you about that? She looked healthy and happy, and that made my heart happy to see.
I’ve thought about you on almost a daily basis since that encounter with your wife last year. It has actually haunted me at times, thinking about the scripture that talks about reconciling with your brother before bringing your offerings before the Lord. In fact, just a little over 1 year before you died, I was sitting in church about to take communion, and the pastor made a beautiful request for anybody who is a believer that has any unabsolved hurts with another person to abstain from taking the communion until it is reconciled. Immediately, my heart was made heavy and my gut sank as I thought of you. I knew I needed to pay you a visit, since I had no other way of getting ahold of you, in order to atone for the hurtful words I said to you and the selfishness of my actions. But, as i have done so many other times in my life, I ignored what I now know and believe was nothing other than the urge of the Holy Spirit, and brushed it off. I told myself, “maybe some day I will go see him, but not today.” And I don’t know why. I guess I was embarrassed to explain it to my wife because even though she knows the story of what happened at the LITTLE group, I don’t think she empathizes with me since she is so disconnected from it, both physically and emotionally.
I’m sorry it has taken me so long to reach out to you. I don’t know why I have put it off all these years. It was only after running into Glynnis last year that I think God placed you on my heart again. I started thinking about my time there at the Lighthouse LITTLE group, and my experiences over those 3 years. I can’t even begin to count the ways in which those experiences changed and shaped my life. Not everything that happened there was fruitful or beneficial to the efforts you had made to strengthen the spiritual hold in that small community, but there is a lot about who I am today that simply would not be true without the love and growth that I experienced while working alongside you and getting to know and love the Lakehills community. I started thinking about the way that we hurt you, and I can’t help thinking that we justified it with a misunderstanding of scripture that had been stripped of its context, and twisted to conform to what most Christians falsely believe about spiritual authority in the church.
I know you were doing your best. You weren’t a perfect man, God knows, but He also knew your heart, and I still believe that you were truly convicted and passionately sold out to the mission of ministering to the families of Lake Hills. I just hope that, despite my behavior and hurtful words all those years ago, that you found it in your heart to forgive me. I miss your friendship and your encouraging spirit. I miss your positive outlook on every aspect of life. I miss the way that you didn’t put up with nonsense, and how you spoke up even when it was so unpopular to do so in the name of defending the truth.
I know this letter is far too little, far too late. And my heart is broken to think that I ignored God’s urging on my heart for nearly a year, and now I will never get the chance to tell you all of this.
I know that you are with Jesus now, and any hurt or pain brought on by the words or actions of others is something that doesn’t even translate in your renewed mind and body now.
It hurts my heart when I think of the opportunities I had to go see you on several occasions, and the fact that I always found an excuse not to. It pains me that I will never see you again on this earth. It saddens me to think of your wife and kids and granddaughter who miss you so dearly every day, and it brings tears to my eyes every time I think back to the horrible way you were taken from this earth.
I know that God had something bigger in mind, and the only encouragement I find in your passing is that Jesus just loved you so much and was so proud of who you were, and the way you represented him, that he didn’t want to wait to meet you any longer.
I miss you, and I look forward to the day we are reunited.