Dear Year 3,

You’ve been a long time coming, and I’ve expected you for awhile now. But for some reason two years can sneak up on you and push you into a crowd pretty unceremoniously. At least that’s what I felt like when I bumped into you a week and a half ago. It was that moment where you look embarrassed, spluttering an apology for your friend’s obnoxious, hinting shove, and then you realize who you’re talking to. Year Three? Oh my. I try not to blush under your gaze. Because it’s in your eyes I realize how far I have actually come in order to even know you.

Your friends tell me that you are pretty difficult to live with. They say you take a lot of work to get along with, and small steps in getting to know you are the only way around it. Busy with droll explanations, I start to zone out on their advice. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “I happen to believe that you can’t study men; you can only get to know them” (That Hideous Strength). I could spend an endless amount of hours analyzing you and coming up with a plan to cope with you. Well, I didn’t even have a chance to. I was practically thrown into your arms, well, not on any plan on my part. But time spent together means I’ve started to get to know you… and I like you far better looking at your face, than studying a list of characteristics or rules.

The other night when I was thinking of you at church, one of your distant aunts told me that you actually are a lot of fun. Well, she must be closer to you than that, because she seems to know you better than me– but at the same time she knows me, too? I find that blur of “knowing” often takes place at church, goes far beyond what I thought. But anyway, it got me thinking. A few months ago I would shudder at the thought of bumping into you. Now, it seems like the most pleasant dream, to be here. Well, more sturdy than that. A teenage longing fulfilled into joy-filled reality. Jesus does that. But you know that, because I’m in front of you.

Am I crazy to believe you kinda like me, too? That you’re actually really excited that I’m here? I didn’t expect it. I thought that somehow you would roll your eyes at my nervous, happy anticipation, aware that I’ve been coming for a long time, and just tolerate me with bland indifference. Isn’t that what you do? But no, a week and a half actually knowing you has made me realize that you smile, too. You do like to have fun. And we have far more in common than I ever thought possible. I mean, come on, “Teaching Children from Diverse Cultures”?! I knew you were passionate about that. But hearing it come from your mouth was a totally different story. And seeing you grin at me? Now, I don’t think I can quite stomach that one. I’m a nervous wreck already, without even thinking of your side.

You’ve been a long time coming, and I’ve expected you for a while now. Yet accidentally sitting next to you at a cafe made me realize also how much I’ve grown in capacity to “cope” with you. But I don’t think you were designed to be “put up with”. You’re so much more than that. You’re fun! (But don’t tell my schedule that, I may end up dancing in the computer lab a little too much!). You’re humble, not intimidating. And, well, you have a good heart. You’re not out to get me! Your aim is not to bring me down this year. You want for my best- you really do want me to make it to that exultant last day in November. And well… I have a suspicion… or maybe a hope… that you kinda like me, too.

Nervously Happy Year 3 Student

“…and you’ll know me, God, for who I really am.”

-Hosea 2:20, MSG

Next in series: An Open Letter from Year 3