Whoa - I’m Grateful | An Intern’s Final Letter To Supporters

Mary Elizabeth Hanes  |  September 01, 2016

A letter to folks who have been faithful to pray for me, love me and financially support me over the last three years here at TCU. i know that there are so many people who have prayed for me who might not be on email list. so, i just wanted to share my gratitude with you as well!

“I have learned a lot about myself the last three years. When I began the internship I was a twenty-three year old college graduate who had spent the last fifteen years of my life conditioning myself to not need anyone. I was hard, calloused. The mask of “I’m fine, I’ve got it all together” was worn day after day. I veiled my cynicism by calling it independence. This is what I knew and I was happy to stay in this place.

But— God cares for his children too much to not have their hearts. His calling me to RUF was something I couldn’t understand for a long time; however, looking back over the last three years, I understand it now. He has been continually with me. He has held my right hand and guided me with his council. God was kind to me in his providences, though some were hard. He brought me through tragedy and pain as I had never experienced before. In his mercy, he did not leave me alone in the hard places. God brought people into my life to meet me where I was. Those friends met me and gently placed their hands on mine as I tried once more to lift my masks and fasten them on.

This was scary and almost unbearable at times, but it softened me. I was unbearably softened. God loved me enough to wreck me and he did so in the most beautiful way. He used this ministry, my bosses, my fellow interns and my students. In wrecking me, he showed me my need afresh. I knew well the depth of my depravity. Too well perhaps— because it (my depravity) was always getting in the way of me delighting in the ways God has gifted and grown me throughout the years. He called me to repent of this idol I had made and was gracious to grant me the ability to do so. As a result of this repentance, I not only saw my great need for my Savior but also my need for others. We were created for community. God is a communal God. He has given me the kindest gift in the people who did the risky work of getting to know me.

Over and over again I have seen my need— my need for my Father, my need for a church family to know and encourage me, bosses who wade with me when the waters get deep and who tirelessly love me through my junk without judgment or rejection, my family who is gentle and patient as I am learning to let them know I need them, my co-intern who cheers me on and keeps me laughing, my students who let me into their lives and want me to let them into mine, and you. Neediness is a beautiful thing— oh that I should ever grasp the weight of that reality!

The internship taught me how weak and needy I really am. It’s a hard truth to come to terms with. But by living in my weakness, I truly came to know more and more how powerful our God is! The Scriptures are true; his power is shown to be perfect through my weakness even in my failures.

I had the great privilege of getting to speak to my students at our last large group. Through tears I let them know how much I loved them. I told them this:

Dear ones— It has been one of my greatest honors to sit with you. To sit with you as you’ve processed the gospel, as you have learned to love the Scripture, as you’ve suffered the death of loved ones and dreams, as you’ve repented of sin and as you’ve prayed for the want to want to repent. To sit with you as you’ve shared your stories with me and listened to mine, and the list could go on and on.

There is so much more I’d love to tell you but I’ll leave you with these three things.

1. I pray that you would find for the first time or afresh a home in the ministry of RUF. I am biased but I love you enough to tell you, you need this. You need a place like this; you need this community and this teaching.

2. It is the gravest of understatements to simply say “thank you for loving me and letting me love you.”

3. Dear friends, you have been a blessing I never expected and certainly did not deserve. Thank you.

I mean those words with my whole heart and the same could be said for you. It could not be more true a statement to say that words really do fail to do justice to the gratitude I feel for each of you. Thank you for loving me, for supporting me both with your prayers and your finances. I am abundantly grateful.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for being a part of this ministry that allows students to be in community with each other, with Jesus and with the beautiful message of grace!”

i am now an almost twenty-six year old finishing up a job i never thought i wanted. as i write i am sitting in our living room surrounded by furniture collected over the last seven years and boxes holding belongings and memories getting ready to find new homes as my roommates and i leave our little house on mission street. one season of life is coming to a close and new one is about to begin. i am both so very excited and absolutely terrified of what is next.

i have thought a lot about how i would articulate the gratitude i feel for the last three years. there are no amount of words that would do justice to how thankful i am so i’ll just share a few.

to my students- thank you for your patience with me. thank you for letting me into your lives. it has been one of the biggest blessings i’ve experienced in life. God used you to grow me, to soften me and to teach me the lost art of listening. thank you.

to the andersons- thank you for allowing me to know and see a higher sacrificial love. thank you for welcoming me into your family, fighting for me and bringing light and joy to my days. being with you feels like dropping the keys on the counter at home after a long day. you have been endlessly patient and kind.

to charles (my co-intern and friend)- thank you for being my biggest cheerleader and for the side stitch that comes from laughing at your jokes. thank you for encouraging me, forgiving me and loving our students with your whole heart. i cannot imagine doing this job without you.

i am most grateful for a God who knows his own. i am grateful that he sees me, that he has hemmed me in behind and before and he knows me. this means he knew what i needed much better than i did. thank you Jesus for this place, the friends i have made here, the students that have loved me, the church that has become my family and the tacos. especially the tacos.