Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year in Review

(This post is a day late because my New Year's Eve consisted of a lot of sleep and a lot of throwing up.  So there you go.)

When I look back on 2013, a lot of thoughts rush through my head, but there's one thing that I keep coming back to.  For quite some time, I thought that the night I got baptized last year was the culmination of my years-long journey back to Christ.  And while that is true, it was, there is something bigger that I was missing out on.  That night was the start of the craziest, most incredible ride of my life.  And that was made so clear to me in this year.

I have learned more about God and His love for me in the past year than I could have ever dreamed was possible.  So much of that has to do with the people He placed in my life.  My church family walked with me and loved me even when I couldn't physically be with them.  My new Texas family took me in as their own without knowing a thing about me.  My sweet Reformation brothers showed me what it means to prove love for someone through actions and taught me that who I am really is enough.  There is truly not a day that goes by that I don't think about the fact that the people in my life are a beautiful manifestation of the blessings God wants to lavish upon His children.  The way they have loved me so well continuously points me back to Him.

The biggest surprises came in the form of two trips I didn't expect to be able to take.  Going back to Nashville, and Sanctuary, meeting Kyla, watching her and Taylor get married, seeing Brennan again...surreal doesn't even begin to describe how that felt.  I was reminded yet again that that city has a piece of my heart, and I'm fairly certain it always will.  Texas was a dream that formed back in April, and I didn't know why at the time, but for once I chose not to force it.  I told God that if it was meant to happen, He was going to have to drop it in my lap.  I didn't stop praying, but I honestly didn't think it was going to happen, and certainly not as quickly as it did.  I had no expectations for what would happen when I got there, and I think it was because of that that I found myself at home from the first second.  Memories from that weekend are some I'm going to carry with me for the rest of my life.

My social life expanded in crazy, bizarre ways.  I found so many people in so many places who know what Christ's love means in a big, bold, humbling way.  These are people who have accepted me without condition and loved me when I didn't expect them to.  With so many friendships, I learned what it means to not have to try, to be able to rest assured that it was known that I was loving them the best I knew how.  People that I've had a basis of authentic friendships with showed me what loyalty means when things get hard.  New friends like my Reformation brothers, Hannah and Travis and Peyton and Emily, showed me how Christ loves without expecting so much as a thank you (which, of course, only made me want to thank them more).

But my social life was also the area that my One Word for 2013 came most into play: Release.  When I wrote my One Word post back on January 2nd, this was what I said about releasing my friendships: "I'm releasing the grip I've had on the people that I love and was scared absolutely terrified to lose, people like my best friend Ryann who is moving back to California as soon as she graduates in May, because none of them were mine to keep in the first place."  Surprisingly, Ryann was the easiest one for me to let go of.  I mean, I miss her like crazy, but all along, I've been able to remember that she is where she is supposed to be, and beyond that, she's still been here for me in every way she possibly can be.  Our saying is "oceans be damned", from the letter I wrote her when we left Campbell at the end of April, and I'd say we've done a pretty good job of living that out so far.  Other people have not been quite so simple.  Seeing people I cared, and still care, for very deeply leaving without so much as an explanation has never been something easy for me to accept, and it's been happening a lot this year.  But God has been working in me to help me see that He gives exactly the people that I need for exactly the length of time that I need them, and that, as I wrote back at the beginning of the year, they aren't mine to keep.

When it comes to my family, I'm still learning to let go.  I crave words of affirmation, and right now, I'm in the middle of learning how to accept that who I am just isn't going to be enough for them and to accept the pain of rejection.  Because I can't make them like me.  I can't make them be okay with the choices I've made.  I have to stop trying so hard.  I'm also learning to let go of the self-serving idea that the way they treat me means they don't love me.  I am no less broken than they are, and if I desire for people like my friends to see my heart beneath the mistakes that I make, then my mom and Holly deserve the same benefit of the doubt.  I'm seeing the beginning fruits of this effort, as I have kept my cool much better while on this Christmas break than I ever have before, but there is still a long way to go.

The most important lesson of this year for me was in my relationship with myself.  To stop holding myself to impossible standards and expectations.  To stop letting myself get weighed down by the picture others have of me.  To stop beating myself up every time I get this love thing wrong.  Teaching a perfectionist not to obsess over perfection is always a tall order.  I didn't know what it was going to look like going into it, but there's a particular new friend of mine who has spent months patiently teaching me what it means to see myself the way that my Father sees me, and it's a lesson I've needed to cling to so desperately this year.  Yet another example of how God gives us the people we need just when we need them.  I know that I am doing the best that I can in my life and my relationships, and more importantly, God knows that.  That is enough.

It's been a big year, y'all.  2014 is going to have a lot of changes, bigger life changes than I've ever faced before, and I know that I'm going to have to cling to the one thing that doesn't change, my Rock, my Father who loves me unconditionally and purely.  My prayer for this next year is that I continue to learn to step back and stop trying to be an intermediary between my relationships and God, to be okay with what my life looks like and trust that His plan will continue to be more beautiful than I could ever create on my own.  I pray the same for each of you, as well.

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