2017 was a YEAR.
Literally, yes, but also WHAT A DOOZY, right?!
I scroll my timelines and I feel my anxiety levels rise. I think back on the headlines that splashed across our screens these past 12 months and I want to weep. I remember the many, many, many lives we lost this year, and I mourn.
And then, I remember the victories that happened this year, too, and I want to celebrate all over again. I reflect on the relationships that have blossomed and grown this year, and my heart swells. I look back on the faithfulness of the Lord even in my hardest seasons, and I'm grateful this year happened.
It wasn't all bad.
It was actually really big, and really great.
But I would have forgotten that if I didn't take time to look back.
2017 was the year it felt like nothing could get worse, the year the headlines brought tragedy after tragedy with hardly a moment to breathe in between. 2017 was also the year I opened my heart to love again, found healing and hope again, and started stepping into freedom in so many areas of my life.
It was brutal, and it was beautiful.
It was the year some of my loved ones found their home underwater from hurricanes in Texas, and then a few months later, other loved ones lost their entire home and everything they owned to a wildfire in Ventura, California. It was the year of great fear and immense loss, but also the year of coming together to rebuild and remind each other that what matters is most is that we are alive and we are still family.
It was the year I realized the labels I had once associated with no longer fit me. It was the year I started finding my own voice, my own beliefs, my own stances on the things that matter most. No longer would I vote Republican just because my parents are Republicans-- this was the year I did my own research and supported the candidates that aligned with my own priorities. No longer would I feel comfortable with the title of "Evangelical"-- this was the year I took time away from church and spent more time in Scripture and began to define for my own self what my faith looks like instead of letting a label try to shape that for me. I'm still working that one out. No longer would I let the voices of the people who have raised be and led me be my own voice-- this was the year I found my own.
This was the year of far, far too many deaths at the hands of guns, and the year I became passionate about fighting for gun control. It was the year I took the time to listen to those who had been directly affected by gun violence (Taylor, specifically), and the year I reached out to my representatives and politicians to let them know that the lives of my fellow Americans matter deeply to me.
This was the year I began my counseling journey. I have shown up 36 times, once a week since April, to sit on that blue couch and ugly cry and verbally process and do the hard work of growth. Simple questions like "How's your anxiety?" have unlocked so much healing in my heart. I have been prayed for each and every time, and I have learned the humbling, heart-changing power of speaking my truth and letting others help me on the journey. I cannot express fully life-changing it has been for me to be in therapy. Every week, I am more free, more fully alive, and closer to my Creator than before. I will never be the same.
It was the year I turned 25 and realized 25 things I had learned so far in life.
It was a year of more anxiety than ever, more panic attacks, more fear and worry. It was also the year of learning to fight back against it and find antidotes for the anxiety when it flared up.
It was the year I did a month-long capsule wardrobe.
It was the year of learning to live in tension. Opinions clashed, debates were sparked over politics and candidates and so much more, and many disagreements were had with loved ones. It was the year of learning to listen to others who feel, think, and live differently than I do, the year of learning how to stand my ground while still being open to new ideas and other perspectives.
It was the year of the Enneagram. (I'm a 1w2!)
It was the year I realized my own privilege as a white woman in America, and the year I started actively deciding to do something about it. It was the year of mourning over violence against my brothers and sisters of color, the year I started seeking out and truly listening to their voices and their stories, the year of choosing not to stay in my bubble.
It was a year of learning how to live in the tension of the now and the not yet.
It was the year of embracing emotion. The year of weeping over the deaths of humans I have never met, the year of grieving the brokenness of our nation and our world, the year of mourning over injustice. It was also the year of choosing joy despite hardship, the year where I learned to look for the good despite all the bad, instead of burying my head and giving up when things got hard.
It was the year of learning how to be real.
It was a year where key relationships ended and changed, and a year where brand new ones blossomed, too. It was a year of learning how to be okay and independent and self-sufficient as a single woman, and also the year I saw a man at a work staff party and knew he would become hugely important to me. It was the year I pushed people away and ended toxic friendships, and the year I fell in love.
It was the year I stepped into a new role at work, moving into a more creative role with much more of a design focus, and I have loved it every day since.
It was the year my brother moved to Colorado and we had our first Christmas without all 4 of us together.
It was the year one cousin got married in GA, another married in TX, another had her second son.
It was the year of falling in love with hot yoga.
It was the year I got my nose pierced and my olive branch tattoo.
I met two of my writing/speaking/faith favorites this year: Krista Tippett and Barbara Brown Taylor, and I mustered up the courage to introduce myself to both and strike up conversations. I even had my question answered by Anne Lamott on a TED Facebook Live event.
I went to many concerts this year: Ed Sheeran, John Mark McMillian and The Brilliance, One Republic with James Arthur, Johnnyswim, Needtobreathe. And theater too: Mary Poppins, Shakespeare in Love, Loves Labours Lost, In the Heights.
It was the year of two trips to Nashville-- one for work and the ERLC conference to interview a TON of authors/speakers/Christian leaders I respect and love, and one for adventures with my blogger besties (SO MUCH FUN).
It was the year I tried new things all on my own-- a pottery class, new hikes, gardening, running a 10K.
It was the year of seeing my words actually published in a real book.
It was the year I was part of putting on a conference for 1,000+ women that blew me away and taught me incredible things about ministry and community and womanhood.
It was the year of discovering PowerSheets and setting intentional, achievable goals for the first time ever.
It was the year I first attended an IF:local gathering.
It was the year I became more passionate than ever about voting, and engaging in politics, and caring about my neighbor in actual, tangible ways. It was another year of giving my money to causes I care about, not wanting to passively sit by and just wish for change without doing something about it.
It was, more than anything else, a year of discovering who I truly am, what I deeply care about, what still needs work in my life, and who the Lord has created and called me to be in this world.
2017, you were really something. For all of your good and all of your bad, I'm still grateful for all that you held. I'm more hopeful than ever for the start of a new year, for new beginnings and new steps forward, for more love and grace and healing, for progress across our cities and nation and world, for more unity and intimacy and togetherness.