This letter below was written by Brooke Putney when she was a high school junior in 2015. We hope this is an encouragement to each of you!
My first real conversation with my Young Life leader included a lie that I ran five miles every day. I was running about two in reality, but I felt the need to impress her. I felt this way, because as a freshman in high school, that was my mission, to impress people. I wanted to be known, admired and loved- just as we all do. In my mind at this point, being admired came from being impressive to every onlooker. Looking back now, I realize my Young Life leader didn’t care if I ran or how far I did. She simply wanted to know me, because she knew something I did not; God simply wanted me to know Him. As high school students, we often walk through the halls feeling as if we are not desired in the slightest, as if no one wants to know us.
But along came Young Life leaders.
Along came Young Life leaders who gave up their lives fully, so we could catch a glimpse of life to the fullest. Along came Young Life leaders who said, “Here am I, send me!” so that others would get to know just how loved they were. Thank you.
THANK YOU FOR…
Making beds out of hard wood floors so kids like me could have the best week of their life.
Waking up early to pray for us, when you desperately needed that extra hour of sleep.
Being bold for the sake of the gospel and ignoring your fears so we could have a raw example of courageous living.
Having no shame in who you are, because you have none in who He is.
Not giving up on us, even when we mess up in the same ways again and again.
Always being a phone call away.
Sending “wanna get coffee and talk?” texts, because we need them more than you’ll ever know.
Showing up at our high schools, even when you feel awkward and out-of-place.
Not shying away from the conversations that will change eternity.
Running through mud obstacle courses when it is the last thing you want to do.
Your genuine humor that never leads to the hurt of others.
Living outside of your comfort zones.
Dancing like no one was watching during that neon rave. Seriously, thank you for that.
Loving us so well, because the fearless, unconditional, personal way in which you have loved us has changed our lives forever.
Loving us at all times.
Being a non-judgmental person against negativity and evil.
Answering all of our questions after camp.
Driving us around when we couldn’t drive ourselves.
Randomly paying for our meals.
Being our friend.
Praying for us when we can’t pray for ourselves.
Admitting you are broken too.
Begging us to go to camp and fall weekend when we have turned you down time and time again.
Taking your vacation time to ride on a bus that smells like a combination of cheddar goldfish and body odor.
Always telling us what we need to hear, even when we don’t want to hear it.
Always pulling for us.
Loving us despite our mess.
Being our number one fan.
Thank you for caring for high school kids like me.
Because you are a Young Life leader, you are far too humble to take any of this credit that we give you. You are too humble to not give all the glory back to the Lord. I am aware that Young Life alone hasn’t changed anyone’s life. I am aware that you, as Young life leaders, haven’t changed our lives by yourselves.
But through you, God has made His invitation of love and belonging so well known. God has worked 180-degree turnarounds, renewed lives and offered beautiful new beginnings. You are far more appreciated than we will ever be able to show you. No words, no gifts, nothing will ever be able to thank you for being the Christ-like person you are to us.
BECAUSE OF YOUNG LIFE LEADERS…
I am sure that there is more to life than high school.
I have been shown that impressing others is not our purpose, but simply put, loving is, because of Christ.
I have found that my life has a greater meaning.
I have learned to freely love my God and my neighbors as myself.
I know there is a love far beyond my comprehension and now I know what love looks like.
I know what joy in pursuing people in the name of Christ looks like.
I know the impact a sacrificial heart can have.
I know what “life to the fullest” looks like.
I know that there is a choice to live for myself or live for something much greater.
I know that there is an option of a life based on deeper conversations, deeper meaning and deeper love than the life I have lived in the past.
My life has drastically changed.
I know that we must give up all that we are, in order to show off all that He is.
I know that I do not have to be completely perfect in order to be completely loved.
I have been given the gift of knowing that I’m loved and valuable.
I know that fullness comes from nothing but our Father.
I always have someone to turn to who will tell me the truth; His truth.
So, thank you. Your efforts, your pursuit, and your love has not gone unnoticed.
Thank you for being a Young Life leader!
If you have an encouraging story from this season of ministry, we’d love for you to pass it along so we could, in turn, share it with leaders everywhere. Email us here!