Monday, July 21, 2014

Text Messages From Emily

In Loving Memory of Emily Aultman

I met Emily in Anatomy class, Spring 2013, 7:20am.

Her red hair was as bright as her personality; her smile, infectious. Despite the ungodly hour of the class, Emily was always cheerful. Throughout the semester, we built a friendship. We exchanged Anatomy notes, encouraged each other before tests and talked about our relationships with God. I’ll never forget when she surprised me with my favorite Starbucks coffee — a gesture that meant far more than just an early-morning caffeine jolt.

After the semester, Tyler and I moved away from Gainesville and I never saw Emily again, but she kept in touch with me. In the short time that I knew her, Emily was always giving to other people. Last summer, she text messaged me asking for prayers for some of her Young Life girls who were struggling in their relationships with God. It was evident in her texts that she cared deeply for these girls; she couldn’t help but pray for them and ask for me to pray for them.

Today, I found out that Emily passed away in a car accident. I was shocked and saddened by the fact that this beautiful soul will no longer reside on this earth. After I heard the news, I went through my phone to read her text messages to me and reminisced about this God-loving redhead. In reading our texts, I remembered that at the end of the semester, Emily had dropped the Anatomy course that we took together. I remembered that it was a time of frustration for her, and that she felt weighed down by her decision.

As I was praying about Emily this morning, I realized how little that Anatomy class matters now. Her soul is no longer earth-bound, the worries of this world mean very little to her now. I know with certainty that Emily, in her eternal state, will not think about that Anatomy class one bit. If anything, she is thinking about us — the people who knew her and love her. She truly had a heart for people and for God, and that is what matters in this life.

Emily will not be remembered by whether or not she passed a class. She will not be remembered for her major, or the fact that she went to the University of Florida. She will not be remembered by these “earthly” things. What she will be remembered by is her incredible love for people, her love for God and her vivacious spirit.

The last text that Emily sent to me, she expressed that she was mourning the loss of a friend that had passed away last year. She said:

 “I’m in a place trying to trust God and praying that I don’t continue to feel the need to know why or the purpose behind her death but that I’ll trust and believe that He does all things well, even in the midst of my hurting heart.” 

Her words ring so true today as I ask God these same questions, and struggle with the same things she struggled with only weeks ago. The encouraging part of all of this for me is that her struggle is over. I don’t know how eternity will work, but I’d like to believe that Emily is with God, and with her friend right now. I think that Emily would recognize that in this life we battle through losses and hardships, but if we are faithful to God, we will come out of it eternally strong.

When I think of Emily, I think of someone who struggled just like all of us do, yet she didn’t give in — she was courageous and spirited. She was an adventuress who trusted God. I hope that I can be that way. And I hope that I will be able to have an eternal perspective about this life — the Anatomy classes of the world will not matter in the long run, so why should I worry about it now?

I ask that all of you join me as I try to focus on the things that really matter in this life: God and the relationships he’s given me. In honor of Emily’s short yet poignant life, and the love that God has given me, I will throw off the worries of this world and live life to the fullest — because that is what we were made for. I hope that you will do the same.

Here’s to you, Emily.