Dear Addison,

You may not remember me.  I’m the one who walked up to you two years ago after a Sunday service at C2G and said, “Hi…I just wanted to tell you that your voice is beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.”

You looked at me like I was telling you something obviously obvious, yet you appreciated it all the same.

Your response was not unfamiliar to me, that early teenager I’m slightly annoyed by you but know I’m supposed to respect my elders kind of response.  You simply said, “Thanks.”

And now it’s my turn to thank you.

Scratch that – it’s our turn to thank you.

Our…as in anyone who has ever called Fort Wayne “home”!

Our…as in everyone who has heard your beautiful voice and has watched you shine.

Our…as in every female on the planet who, at one time in their lives or another, has contemplated succumbing to becoming someone they are not in order to gain the attention of others who exploit them for their own gain.  And chosen not to.

Our…as in people living in this world without hope, the ones who have given up on believing in a Being greater than themselves.

Our…as in everyone who needs Jesus.

You have touched us all with your beauty and grace.  Your poise is unrivaled and your spirit – well – and I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know here…your spirit is not fully your own.

I don’t know if the magnitude of this moment has fully hit you yet.  How God is using you.  Your resilience in the face of life’s circumstances and your willingness to be moved by the Spirit exemplifies wisdom and strength beyond your years – just like your music.  You have recognized the gift He has given you and are channeling it for the greater good.

For peace.  For comfort.  For joy…pure joy!

That is what you are to us: a model of absolute certainty that who we are in Christ is enough.  Throughout the entire competition, you remained true to who you are as an artist and as a person.  You eschewed societal expectations, not once teetering or even coming close to feeding the machine in the name of votes.  For all that we have had to endure in today’s climate – this long overdue movement of no longer tolerating being beaten down so we can rise up – your unwavering “this is who I am” identity allowed us to breathe fresh air again and renew our collective faith.

Thank you for being the consummate exemplar to all of humanity.

Be sure that no matter what happens tonight, you have won our love, our respect and our hearts; as, in the midst of the world’s darkness, Addison, you have illuminated our souls.

Shine on, girl!  Shine on!

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, ESV)