I became friends with most of you in the past few years. We met at church. From the beginning, you were different. You stood out to me.
At the time, I was in a rough season. I didn’t have to question what you thought or if my disability was an obstacle. I didn’t have to break down any walls. There was no real barrier with you.
Thank you for accepting me from day one.
We connected on Sunday mornings, but we made the effort to be friends outside of that structured space. Conversations can only go so far in the middle of a crowd. You hadn’t known me very long and I realized you might wonder about my disability. The truth is I can be blind to the disability factor. I learned to open up and give you space to ask questions.
As I invited you into my world, you stood out again. You wanted to understand me, include me in your lives, and know how to help along the way. In your presence, I never feel limited, awkward, or out of place. Something I love about all of you more and more over time.
Thank you for showing me I belong.
Last year was a breakthrough year for me on multiple levels. And you were there. Dear friends, you taught me things I can’t always explain in words and helped me find healing, even when you didn’t know it. All the ways you consistently showed up and actively cared spoke volumes to my heart.
A couple of months ago I invited you to my house for dinner. When I planned the party, I was excited to host everyone for a fun night. But this party was a milestone of sorts. It was the culmination of that healing journey. I looked around the dining room table and absorbed the moment. I saw a beautiful mix of siblings and friends. I think I commented aloud, “Yay! We’re all here!” I was surrounded by dear friends.
Thank you for loving me where I was and where I am.
You are the ones who have shown up the most. You are my community that God has been growing all along. Reflecting on just the past year, I could see how God has brought me to “life” again. You were part of that.
I will gladly celebrate you anytime. Because you matter to me and you showed I matter to you. You have extended the theme I learned from my family — normal. We are fellow friends. We have plenty of adventures, reasons to gather, and stay out late.
Thank you for always embracing me as a person.
I am grateful and excited to keep sharing life with you.