The Beauty of a Bad New Year

I have not written in this space without a purpose in quite some time. I've published many posts, shared many book reviews, and written lists, but I haven't really written.

I asked those of you on Twitter what you wanted to see more of, and I was surprised that "real life thoughts" tied for the #1 response.

I don't often want to share real life thoughts here, if I'm being honest.

I write them in my journal. I pray about things a LOT. I talk to trusted friends in safe spaces. But I usually keep it there, I rarely share it all here.

I'm learning that processing privately first is a healthy practice for me, but I'm also reminded that there is beauty in vulnerability and that the best community springs forth out of honesty and intimacy. That all comes when we share our lives with each other.

I want to do a little more of that in this coming year.

This year didn't start well for me.

I didn't think I wanted to share about this here, but I think it's actually a good thing for me to do...

I had a panic attack on January 1. A really big one, that was really bad. What a way to start the new year, right?

It was terrifying.

I was in a new city with a fairly new-to-me person, I was sick, I was taking new cold medicine, I was sleep-deprived, I was running on empty, plans had changed and I felt out of control, and everything caught up to me all at once in the form of a huge storm of anxiety and panic.

I couldn't seem to make it stop. I couldn't find a way to breathe. I couldn't stop crying, couldn't stop shaking, couldn't figure out a way to calm down. I didn't know what I needed, and I didn't know what to ask for. I didn't know how to pray in that moment. My mom called and talked me down for quite a while, and it helped to have a distraction and to have her speaking calm words and saying funny things and giving me practical things to do... but it was the most out of control, humiliating, stressful, scary and unexplainable thing that I've ever experienced.

So many of you reached out to me on Twitter when I mentioned it there and reminded me yet again that I'm not alone in these things -- that's the most beautiful thing about social media to me, that even though all of you are far away, you can feel so near. It's such a comfort when things get hard and you speak words of encouragement to me in the moments I need it most-- thank you for that.

Here's what that panic attack reminded me of:

We cannot make it through life alone. 

I could not have made it through that attack alone. I felt so sure as it was happening that this is surely the end for me, that I would just keel over at any second and that would be that. It was scary.

But there was a comforting hand on my shoulder the whole time. There was a voice coming through the phone to reassure me. There was a person next to me praying over me when I couldn't find the words myself. There were friends states away praying for me, sending me the sweetest messages, standing with me in it.

I was never alone.

As I struggled to get air through the sobs and the coughing, I did my best attempt at breath prayer -- Holy Spirit come on the inhale, bring me peace on the exhale. It was feeble and it was shaky and it was hard, but that prayer on repeat on my breath felt holy in the middle of the hardest moments. It brought comfort even in the chaos.

We are never alone. 

Last year was hard for a lot of us.

This year has gotten off to a pretty hard start for some of us.

But last year was beautiful for a lot of us, too.

This year has been a great new start for some of us.

When the hard times come and we feel like this is surely the end, we need the people who are in the gentler seasons that can remind us that we'll find our way out of the wilderness if we just keep going.

When the floor seems to fall out from underneath us, we need the hands reaching down to help pull us up to solid ground again.

When the darkness seems overwhelming, we need every single bit of light to shine through the cracks and help us find our way.

When the relationships end, when the last breaths are taken, when the diagnoses are made, when the tragedies strike, when the anxiety overwhelms, when the rejection comes, when God feels far, we need each other.

We don't need long lists of fancy resolutions.

We don't need THAT journal or THAT product or THAT book.

We don't need the fad diet or the expensive juice cleanse.

We don't need the diamond on our ring finger.

We don't need to win the lottery.

We just need Him, and we need each other.

The rest will come, or it won't, but together, we will make it.

I don't know all that 2017 will hold.

I know that I'm praying for clarity.

I know I have big dreams of all the fun things I want do.

I know I'll read a lot of books.

I know I'll laugh, and I know I'll cry, and I know I'll feel stressed out sometimes, too.

I know I'll make new friends, and I'm sure I'll lose a few.

I know I'll love hard, and I can bet my heart will get a little broken.

I'll say yes to a lot, and I'll say no to more.

I'll stretch, I'll grow.

I'll be different at the end than I am today.

And I won't do any of it alone. 

Whatever 2017 holds, however happy or horrible or hard, He will be faithful. He will be good. He is Immanuel, He is with us. He has conquered all, and He calls us conquerors and co-heirs with Christ, too.

This year didn't start well for me, but even so, it is well with my soul. Thanks for being with me on the journey, friends.