When you look back on a period of time, do you ever feel as though you learned more within 2 months than an entire year? Growth seems to come like that. Healing seems to come like that too. You wait for so long, then it hits you, and then you come out of that season a little confused, stumbling over what you thought was complete healing.
That’s a little how 2018 went for me.
I made up my mind to be completely vulnerable with this post.
I’ve connected with more of you this year than any other year before. These connections encouraged me, but they also broke my heart.
So many people around us are walking through the same valleys we are and we pass them over because they look perfect.
This post is about disembodying the label of perfection. It’s about a year that transformed me in more ways that I could have ever imagined. When I asked for help selecting the topic of my next blog post, most of you said “What you have learned in 2018.” But I got a few other suggestions too. Relationships. Loneliness. Broken friendships.
To be completely honest I feel as though I am the last one to speak to those things. Right now, I am in a season of brokenness and learning. It’s funny how you think your season of healing will come and go and you’ll be alright again. But sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, you back track a little. But you’re only getting pulled back in order to go that much farther forward.
So what follows is not an expert’s opinion. It’s not how I feel most days. It’s what I can look back and see that I have learned. What I want to feel. I am working on believing these things. I am working on processing them. I am working on getting the truth to my soul – but sometimes it just sits in your head for a while. I hope you can relate.
At the beginning of 2018, I was on cloud 9. 2017 had given me all I wanted. It’s funny how the best part of one year of your life can almost become the worst part the next. I don’t know if you’ve experienced anything like that, but this year I did.
I thought I knew how everything would work out, and what I wanted seemed to be going my way.
But in my heart I knew something was empty. Something was broken. But I kept getting what I wanted and slapped it over my doubts like a bandaid. That held together the parts of my heart that felt so meaningless.
I felt very confused for a while. I didn’t feel as though I could explain how I felt to someone. It seemed like too much. I knew I was listening to lies too often, but it felt like I couldn’t silence them.
My mom has always told me I have a very sensitive conscience, and that it’s a gift. I’m beginning to realize more and more how right she is. Looking back on the beginning of this year, I wish I had listened to that voice a little more.
I put all my happiness in the hands of one person. That was my greatest mistake.
I moved into Summer with expectations of change and wasn’t disappointed. It was one of the greatest summers of my life. I saw so much of the world. I experienced it with people I loved. I felt so content. There were ups and downs in between but they were the ups and downs of any happy life. Everything felt perfect and I didn’t want anything to change.
I moved back home. It was kind of hard at first but I thought it’d be better in the long run. It’s funny, I think God directed me to make that decision because He wanted me to stop taking my family for granted. He also knew what was around the bend. This decision also reminded me that it’s ok if my life looks a little different. You don’t have to be like everyone else.
Then the hands of the person I had put all my happiness in were pulled apart and all of that happiness looked more like pain scattered on the floor.
I’m grateful it happened when it did.
I am so glad I did not go on longer that way.
Because when you give one person the power to control all of your being, you sign over your life to them. Your thoughts, your emotions, your moods, your everything.
It was not their fault I had become this way. It was my own. I learned this lesson in the hardest way, but I think God knew the lengths He had to go to in order to get my attention.
I learned I cannot put my worth in the hands of anyone except the One who made me. He is the only One who can tell me what I am truly worthy of and who I truly am.
In the wake of this surprise I felt The Father pick up the pieces of my heart that had fallen to the floor and He put them all back together. He reminded me of who I was. He never failed.
I experienced loss and felt it hit my family in a different way. Another surprise. Another unexpected. But in the middle of that I felt The Father hold us like He never had before. I learned that most times, God doesn’t take the pain away. But He sits with us and cries with us in it. He is present.
He doesn’t leave our sides even for a moment. Often times we’re just too angry to see it.
I met new people. God opened my eyes to see the beauty of the people surrounding me. I had ignored a lot of beautiful souls for a while. & I faced a few more disappointments, but He covered them with an assurance that He had something better in store.
Lately God has seemed quiet again. I have felt discouraged. It’s not easy to break that habit of finding validation in someone else and just forget about it. Sometimes, you have to take a few steps back. I realize now how much of my life has been spent looking for what people can give to me instead of what I can give to them — instead of what I can give without expectation in return.
I’m not ending 2018 with incredible clarity or direction or perfect contentment, although I wish I could say I am. I am ending it still confused. I don’t think we should pretend to be where we are not. But I am ending it with so much assurance that 2019 will be better in every way. I am ending it with so much assurance that what He is teaching me now is far more important than what I think I should be experiencing now. I’m ending it with new struggles, but with new grace.
I am ending it with a bravery I never knew before.
2018 taught me that He will forever leave the 99 to find me. That He will hunt me down in my wandering. That He will remove the barriers that keep me from Him.
Because the thing is?
What you think you need in your life might not actually be what you need right now.
You may think you need more friends,
but He is just trying to make you see how much you need Him.
You may think you need to know what you will be doing next year at this time,
but He is just trying to make you see how much you need to learn to trust.
You may think you need someone to understand you,
but He is just trying to make you see that He understands every part of you.
You may think you need more,
but He is just trying to make you see that He is enough.
You may think it is all pointless,
but He is just trying to make you see how much you matter.
& you may think you need clarity,
but your heart just needs Jesus.
It could be your year of victories, or it could be your year of defeat. For me, it was a year of Him saving me from myself. He knows better for me than I know for myself. I don’t know if I could think of a harder – but more valuable – lesson to learn. I hope I never forget what He taught me.
There are still things that don’t make sense. But I’m sure of one thing,
Next year will be even better.