In the eighth grade, my life was radically changed when I met the girl you see in the picture above.
That’s Cayla Rose Keiser.
This is the story of how we met.
I was the new kid at school and it wasn’t the first time. I was in the act of moving schools with my mother as found new schools to teach in. Making friends in this year of my life was horribly unsuccessful, until I met Cayla.
I sat in the front row of Spanish One, hating every second of it. I knew not a single person, but to distract myself I focused on how to conjugate verbs in the present tense. For a while this practice worked, but slowly I grew bored. If you know any middle school students, you know that after awhile, they need interaction.
Cayla is one of those people that captures your attention from across the room, even when you try to ignore her. It came to the point where even when I tried to ignore her, I just couldn’t. I decided I wanted to be friends with her.
So, one afternoon in Spanish we introduced ourselves.
And in an instant, we bonded over the fact that both of us have magnificently curly hair and that we both love to write stories.
That sold our friendship.
Friday was her 18th birthday.
Yes. Four years later, we are still best friends.
Her mom decided to throw a surprise party for her at a Hibachi restaurant and you best believe I was present. The look on her face as she walked in the room was a face I won’t soon forget. It’s so special to see someone you care about so deeply, so happy.
Cayla has radically changed the way I live. She has changed my heart. She has changed the way I will view relationships for the rest of my life. She has been there when no one else has and she has shown me that opening up to someone is not pointless.
Cayla Rose Keiser has proven time and time again that we need to depend.
On Friday night, I intended to write about something entirely different, but after being with Cayla last night, God placed this on my heart.
I kept asking myself, “why is it such a habit to depend on our own strength in life?”
I thought for a little longer and I came up with this question: “Hasn’t it become so easy in our society, where everything is handed to us on a silver platter, to negate others help and claim that we are independent enough to do it on our own?”
This is so true.
While we have friendships, loved ones, and relationships, no matter what age you are. And how often do you find yourself depending on them? How often do you find yourself admitting, “I cannot handle this situation on my own” and reaching out to those you hold closest to you?
In this day and age, we have been taught that independence is everything. That’s all you craved as a kid.
Once you started talking, you probably started walking on your own. After that, you were able to eat on your own, and manage your hygiene on your own. Many years pass and you can cook on your own and manage your schoolwork on your own. At this point you’re about middle school age and you’re craving for your parents to give you privileges like seeing movies with your friends or staying home alone. Soon enough, you’re hanging out with the friends that your parents did not choose for you and driving yourself to get there. Then, you’re 18 and suddenly you don’t need anybody for anything. College comes and you’re off doing your own thing all the time.
If you ask me, 18 is the bow on the present that is becoming independent.
We have grown up in a society and culture that teaches us to be independent at all costs. We cannot be faulted for it, since we were raised that way.
I am the same way. I get it.
For so many years of my life, I refused to let anyone in. I refused to let anyone know my baggage or my past, my current or present circumstances, and I couldn’t let people see who I truly was.
The thought of being dependent and transparent scared me to death and so I hid. I hid myself from the world.
But what I didn’t realize is this: hiding was keeping me from growing.
Hiding behind a shell and a false persona was holding me back from jumping fully into the identity that God had planned for me.
When I met Cayla, she showed me that we don’t have to do life alone.
We don’t have to hide in fear.
Cayla taught me that when you depend, you can extend.
You can extend into the person God is calling, beckoning, and longing for you to be when you decide to depend.
While it takes strength to know you personally need to be strong and step up to the fight that is life, it takes strength to know what you need someone to depend on. It takes courage to take that step and not do it alone.
There’s Biblical evidence to back this up, friends. In Hebrews it says...
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)
Paul is a genius, isn’t he? He is saying that we should not neglect each other, rather we should encourage one another in the rough spots of life and in the good. He says that good, strong, healthy relationships spur you on to God’s intention for your life. In my head, he’s saying that doing this life on your own is beyond pointless.
This year has been the hardest year of my entire life and I cannot sit here and tell you that senior year is the best year of high school. It may have been for you, but not for me; however in light of that, this year has truly taught me how to work together with those close to you. This year has taught me how to cherish the relationships I have and shown me ways in which I could make those bonds stronger.
It’s proven to me that when you depend on those around you, you extend.
Your relationships extend. They become stronger.
Your character extends. It is shaped and it grows closer to who God calls for you to be.
Your life glows with joy because you make the decision to create a community for yourself.
There’s something to be said about this, people.
I simply ask you: will you take the step and have the courage to depend? Will you bust down whatever walls you have placed before you and start to trust those people God has placed in your life?
Because it’s safe for me to say this: I would not be where I am if I didn’t begin to let Cayla into my life.
I depended and boy did she radically change my entire life.
And the decision?
It’s yours for the making.
“Butterflies are nature’s tragic heros. They life most of their lives being completely ordinary. And then, one day, the unexpected happens. They burst from their cocoons in a blaze of colors and become utterly extraordinary. It is the shortest phase of their lives, but it hold the greatest importance. It shows us how empowering change can be.” -Kelseyleigh Reber
Sometimes, we discover our life is beginning to weigh us down; we find it difficult to feel the joy God gives us on a daily basis. This past weekend, I embarked on a journey to Frequency, a camp for seventh and eighth graders and discovered that life, while beautiful and a blessing, still has it's bricks that weigh us down.