(warning: it’s a long one)
We met 18 years ago. We were both signed up for a church youth conference and ended up sitting next to each other as the van drove us all from Seattle to Anaheim, CA. “My name is John Louviere. Think of groovy-hair because my hair is so groovy, except Loooo–viere.” John made me laugh for hours on end. Eighteen years later, he still makes me laugh.
As the conference ended, the speaker invited anyone who wanted to come up for prayer. John and I sat in the back and watched hundreds of kids go forward. There were four or five empty chairs in between us. I remember the details, even the most random, like it happened yesterday.
Out of nowhere, John started crying. His crying turned to deep weeping. It made me tear up as I watched this guy let go. Four or five people gathered around him and asked if he needed prayer. His next words would shift my life forever. John said, “No, I’m okay. For some reason, I just can’t stop crying for her.” And then he pointed at me.
I was on the fence about attending the Youth Conference. My life was falling apart. I had just been issued a court date regarding my date rape. I wasn’t able to go home. I was afraid. I felt alone. The man who had raped me was now stalking me, trying to terrorize me out of taking this to court. All of a sudden, the idea of escaping to California for a week sounded perfect—much needed. There was so much hurt inside me, so much shock from what had been done to me, that I couldn’t even cry. I would try to cry, and I couldn’t. I felt so hard inside—so afraid.
John said, “No, I’m okay. For some reason, I just can’t stop crying for her.” He pointed at me. I felt like a truck had hit me, and then hot tears started to burn down my face. All the coldness and anger that I felt started to fall out in angry tears, tears of grief, tears of rejection, tears of deep, deep pain.
I’ve thought about that moment hundreds of times. Part of me didn’t want to cry over the pain I was feeling because I didn’t want to feel more alone. Getting in touch with your pain can often separate you even more from the ones you love. But to see John in my pain, grieving it in some mysterious way that we have never figured out since, I wasn’t alone all of a sudden. It was okay for me to let down, let the tears come, let the pain come to make way for the healing.
Brian and I like to tease John nowadays—we tell him he’s responsible for me starting to cry and the fact that I have never stopped crying! I cry so much and so frequently that I’ve given up all mascara. But the truth is that God used John in a powerful way that shifted my future. My beginning would not be my end.
After staying with us the last two weeks, John pulled out of town yesterday. He’s en route to his next city in the midst of his House Concert Tour. He’s got his guitar, a set list of original songs, and he’s taking a risk.
I remember when John first started learning to play guitar. He took it up so fast, and before we knew it—he was playing us original songs. For almost twenty years, he’s dreamed of taking his music more serious—doing some kind of tour. But he’s been afraid. And he’ll be the first to say it.
I wasn’t the only one with a sad story when we first met. John is from a family of addicts. He was left as a small boy to raise himself—literally. The things that his parents did to him and didn’t do are impossibly cruel. His self worth used to be non existent. His confidence…there wasn’t any. His dreams—he believed he wasn’t worthy enough to have them. His future—who had energy to care. And yet, he kept writing and playing music. Despite all the pain, his creative side would not let him forget his potential. So after years of deciding to keep his music inside—not wanting to risk rejection—he decided to LEAP.
For the last two months, John has traveled up the West Coast doing house concert after house concert. When he pulled into town to have his concert at our home, I thought I knew what to expect. Brian and I have listened to John’s songs for years. But this was different. We were always safe people for him to play his music to. But a living room of forty strangers, there’s nothing safe-sounding about that.
As he started, I sat in my living room and watched my old friend transform before my very eyes. I saw him perform in a way that I have never seen him perform. I saw something powerful unleash itself from his creative spirit, and I could see him someday on a stage in front of thousands.
The dream didn’t seem dreamy or impossible, but absolute. The transformation was so striking that Brian and I stayed up until almost 2am talking with him afterwords—so giddy, so excited—so amazed!
He had this in him all along, but there was never a need for the confidence to rise and show itself. If he would have kept going through life and never taken the risk to do these House Concerts, he may have never known how strong he really is. His beginning is not his end.
I watched my two babies listen to his music. Blaze hid behind the couch, and peaked out from behind once in a while. I wondered how his little spirit was taking in the experience. Pascaline sat next to me and Lindsay. She LOVED it all. Brian stood in the back recording the night, big smile of pride on his face.
As John pulled away, headed to the next city on his tour list, I couldn’t help but remember the day we met. We were both so broken. We had so much pain and loss in our lives. And yet, we laughed as we drove to Anaheim. Our tomorrows seemed so hopeless at the time, why not sit and joke with a new friend.
In the years to come, we would both walk through even darker hours of pain. Our storms were not finished with us yet. The dark night of the soul had yet to come. But almost twenty years later, I see the impossible right in front of me. We both kept going. We never gave up. We kept creating with no hope or assurance of where our creations would end up—who would see them, be blessed by them, if they would ever even be seen at all.
I see my babies watching John, listening to his guitar make the sounds of a dozen instruments at once. I wonder if they hear the song of hope. The song that sings the truth—my beginning will not be my end.
We love you John.