The girl in the picture wore a smile as bright as the sun and eyes that twinkled like stars. Her skin was touched with that flawless, end of summer glow. Her strong cheek bones were kissed with a rosy pink and a faint dusting of freckles. Her long, flowing hair framed her face in silky streaks of gleaming golden hues.
The girl in the picture was full of life and hope for the future. Her eyes glittered with dreams of adventure and excitement. Her big smile welcomed new experiences and dared to confront new challenges. Her zest for life leapt from the printed page.
The girl in the picture was so young and naive. She couldn't see failures or disappointments up ahead. Her eyes couldn't possibly imagine images of darkness or depression. Her smile didn't anticipate future pain and suffering.
The girl in the picture used to be me. I was the girl in the senior graduation picture looking ahead to a bright and exciting future. I was the girl who put her hopes in a fresh start away at college. I was the girl with big, vivid dreams. I was the girl who believed she could conquer anything and would.
I was the girl who couldn't predict a future of missed life milestones and dashed dreams. I was the girl who had no understanding of how deep the river of loneliness or trying the road marked with trials.
I was the girl who couldn't imagine sickness and disease and knew nothing of physical suffering or spiritual sorrow.
When I was that girl in the picture I didn't know the true magnitude of the goodness of God. I had yet to experience the depth of God's forgiveness and how truly extravagant His grace. I couldn't even begin to comprehend the Lord's mercy or how desperately I needed it. The girl I was in that picture didn't understand the definition of surrender or the freedom that comes from it. In that picture I was lost and didn't know I still needed to be found.
Nine years later I'm not the same smiling, glowing, starry-eyed senior I was in that picture. With the passage of time I have grown older and less naive, but I am still full of hope. On my journey of life I have become intimately acquainted with the pain of disappointment and the sorrow of suffering, but I still dream of a bright future. Over the years I have been marred by disease and illness, yet I continue to welcome new challenges and face new giants.
God has transformed me, the girl in the picture.
And He isn't finished yet.