So much can happen in 365 days. Your life can turn upside down in a matter of seconds. And you might find that the person that you woke up as on January 1st 2015 is not the same as the person who bids goodbye to another year on December 31st, 2015. I’m most certainly not the same as I was 12 months ago.
2015 brought heartbreak, but it also brought healing.
At the beginning of 2015, I was drowning in my insecurities. The semester wasn’t going the way I had wanted it to, I was very ill physically, my grades were slipping, relationships were going wrong, and I was very unhappy. I just wanted to get the spring semester over with, but I wasn’t looking forward to returning to a summer job in an office for the whole summer. I was defeated, and very broken. I had put so much of my hope and expectations in people, and I thrived on affirmation of others. I had turned away from finding my identity and purpose in Christ, and I filled it with relationships, business, and feeble attempts to define myself as the “artist” the “photographer” “the girl people would want to be friends with”. I returned home for the semester defeated and depressed.
I was angry for a while. I was angry at God for taking some things away. I was angry at a boy who shattered my self-esteem. I was angry at my circumstances. But most of all, I was angry at myself for not doing better, for not being a better person. I recognized my weakness and I knew that there had to be a drastic change. And as i looked back at the relationships I had destroyed, the choices I had made, and how far I had wandered… I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I surrendered to His will for me. And that brought healing to my heart. He helped me pick up the pieces of a messy breakup, took away the stains and “ick” i had stored up, reminded me that my identity is found in Him alone, and guided me back home – to where I needed to be. And so the spring brought healing, it brought people from home back into my life, who walked with me through this process of healing. And through the healing process, I was able to enter the summer with a new sense of purpose, a healed heart, and a humbled mindset.
And I am learning that healing is a process that takes time. God is still healing my heart, and He will continue doing so in 2016.
2015 brought loss, but it also reminded me of love.
Towards the end of this year, I had to walk through something I never would have imagined I would have to. I lost my best friend in a car accident, and honestly? It still doesn’t feel real. I remember when I found out. It was 3 AM and I was sitting by my phone hoping someone would call and say, “He’s in critical but stable condition”. I was praying for a miracle. But instead, when the phone rang I heard, “he’s with Jesus.” And my whole world seemed to come to a screeching halt. I still can’t wrap my head around it right now. I understand that it will take time. It hurts a lot, as I look back at all of the previous years that Greg stood by my side in the good times and bad, and every other in between. It makes me nostalgic for the old days mostly, and a little anxious about the days to come. But even during this trial, I have learned so much.
The most significant thing I’ve learned is that I am loved by so many people, and I have so much love to give to a hurt world. During a time of pain and grief, my friends have come together and surrounded each other with support, prayers, encouragement, tissues, laughs, and most of all, love. I have never once been alone during this time. I have some of the greatest friends by my side, even when they are hurting and feeling this pain too. We were close in high school, all of us. But college slowly made us drift apart. In light of this tragedy, we have become closer than we were before. Over this last month, I have cried with these people until I couldn’t see straight and I have laughed with them until my stomach hurt. They have reminded me that I will never have to go through life alone, and that I am always loved.
The day after Greg and Haley passed away, I was absently leaving through a book written by my biggest inspiration, Jamie Tworkowski. His book, If You Feel Too Much (which you DEFINITELY should read if you haven’t), is filled with his thoughts and reflections on life and the hurt and pain in this world. I stumbled across something he wrote when he lost a good friend to cancer. And it resonated with me and brought me comfort. I don’t know how to end this section, so I will end with these words.
“Though the price will be the heartache of loss- for we can’t control when or how an ending comes – what a privilege that God allows us to connect with other people in this life, to be known, and to be loved so we do not walk alone. Perhaps friendship – the deep kind, the best kind – perhaps it is a miracle.” – jamie tworkowski
2015 brought disappointment, but it also brought a deep sense of hope.
My first year in college wasn’t exactly how I planned. And I’m halfway through the second one and it’s still not exactly going how I planned. By the halfway mark of 2015, I was stressing about how I was going to keep my scholarships and stay in school, diagnosed with a chronic illness, about to start a job I wasn’t sure I would enjoy, and stuck in licking county for the whole summer.
But by God’s grace, I managed to keep my scholarships and return to Cedarville this fall and get the chance to room with my beautiful and wonderful best friend. I have began treatment for my illness, and I am doing better than I was. I ended up absolutely loving my summer job, even though it wasn’t the one I had planned on getting. And being stuck in licking county brought some incredible things into my life; one being a group of wonderful 8th grade girls that I got to minister to and mentor over the summer. and another being my boyfriend, who I wouldn’t have began to get to know had I worked at a summer camp like I planned.
All of that taught me that sometimes (well… sometimes it feels like most of the time) life doesn’t exactly work out how we want it to. And that’s because God’s plan is so much bigger and more incredible than we could even imagine! I’m learning that I have to remind myself often that God is in control, not me. So often, I decide what my life is going to look like and tell God that’s how things are going to be. But by His grace, He doesn’t allow all of my plans to work out…instead, He replaces them with something much better. This has brought me such a deep sense of hope for 2016. I have an idea of how I want things to go, but who knows what can happen in a year! All I know is that God will lead me to where He wants me to be, when He wants me to be there.
2015 brought pain, but it also brought purpose.
I watched two sweet women girls in my life lose their fathers, one to a heart attack, and one to cancer. I saw the eyes of the hurting and broken in downtown Columbus, void of hope. I felt the pain and burdens that the young girls i mentored carry, I felt it deeply. I felt the loneliness and longing in the eyes of the underprivileged kids I worked with. I walked through the nightmare of losing my closest friend.
I questioned the purpose for all of these things. I cried and screamed at God to fix it, because it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair at all. But in the midst of the pain, i was reminded that there is purpose even if we can’t see it at first. And more importantly, we have a purpose to love. My eyes were opened to the pain that surrounds me every day, and I realized that I am called to live a life that brings hope and joy to people’s lives. Our greatest commandment is to love. Our greatest purpose is to love, even (maybe especially) those we find it hardest to love. This realization brought change to my life and it brought a passionate feeling of purpose. I used to hate the fact that I felt things so deeply, so much. But now I realize it is a gift to feel things so clearly. It may be painful, but it reminds me of my purpose.
2016, I don’t know what you will bring. But…
All I know is that I am ready for you. I am grateful for everything I have learned in 2015, the opportunities I’ve been given, the friendships I have been blessed with, the memories I have gathered. But I am anxious to see what a new year brings me. I am anxious to see what God will do in my life and in the lives of those I love. I am anxious and expectant.
But perhaps most of all, i am ready for the memories I will make and the time I have been given. If 2015 taught me one thing, it taught me to never take the time we’ve been given for granted. It taught me to hold those I love close, to chase after my passions and ambitions, to love without stopping to deem the person worthy of it or not, to make memories I will treasure, to make this world a better place day by day.
2015, you taught me how to live. And for that, I am forever grateful for this year i’ve lived through, these 12 months I’ve grown, and these 365 days of learning and becoming the person I am today – the person that enters 2016 without fear. Thank you for that.
January, February, March
The days are marching forward
April, May, June and July
They fly like a hummingbird
August, September, October
The year is almost over
November, December arrive
Now the year is gone
Time is illusion
Time is a curse
Time is all these things and worse
But our time is now
Our time is now
Our time is now
Let us sing before our time runs out.
– before our time by Jon Foreman