As I write this, I’m watching the New York Rangers-Boston Bruins hockey game. Simultaneous fights are breaking out between the teams. And I can’t help but smile. 


“But Toni, why are you smiling watching hockey players fight? And why aren’t you watching the Red Wings?”


Both are valid questions. 


Before I moved to the Detroit area seven years ago, I lived in Boston. At 22 years old, I just graduated from college and could move anywhere in the country. After creating several pros and cons lists of cities, Boston won. 


One criteria for moving was that I needed to live in a great hockey city. Having grown up in a hockey-adoring family that spans generations, it wasn’t just a requirement: it was a necessity to help my new home feel like home. And Boston’s hockey scene was incredible. 


I smile because this game and the very real Boston-New York rivalry evoke great memories from that time. I was naive stepping into the world as a young adult for the first time. I had so much optimism that everything would be OK even though I was building a life across the country from scratch with no guarantees. Yet I had wonderful experiences. I made lifelong friends. And Boston’s still my second home. 


But would I have the gumption to do now at 32 what I did at 22? No.  


And that optimism that felt easy to have at 22 years old? It’s harder to maintain now. 


I’m sure you feel it, too. We’ve lived through a lot in a short amount of time. Surviving through the deadliest pandemic our world has experienced in a century. Deeper divisions between “us” and “them.” Loss in its infinite shapes and forms. 


To put it lightly, it’s been hard. But we’re here. 


A decade after that move, I can confidently say that at 22 years old, I wasn’t right about most things. But one thing I was right about was being less afraid to be more open with God – not just the happy me in great times, but also (and especially) the uncertain me in difficult times.


He wants to know every part of us during our experiences. He wants to be with us in the happy parts of our lives. He wants to be with us during our snot-filled cries. And He wants to be with us at every point in between. 


He won’t be embarrassed whenever and however you come to Him. He loves you.


As Boston scores another goal and yet more fights break out between the teams, I look back in gratitude to that 22 year old who trusted in God to be with her. And I give thanks to Him for welcoming me with love in all my forms ever since. 


My hope is that you’ll find a way in the coming days, weeks, and months to be more open with God in what you feel and what you need. 


He’s waiting for you with love.