Today is my birthday (HEY HEY!) and like in year’s past, it’s a day that I love celebrating and love to prepare for by reflecting on the past 365 days. January 1 and May 3 are touchstone days for me— days I spend reminiscing, remembering, and reminding myself of how far I’ve come by the grace of God, as well as casting some vision and setting some goals for the year ahead. 26 was a solid year, full of really high highs and really low lows, and I’m grateful to be closing the door on that chapter and starting a new one today as I turn 27!
Here are 27 things I’ve learned this past year:
Life is beautiful and baffling, hard and holy, fun and frustrating, intense and incredible. Often, all at the same time.
Telling my family and then the whole world my story of rape, abuse, and trauma will not be the end of me. For far too many years, I believed that telling anybody what happened to me would mean they wouldn’t love me any more, and it was life-changing and absolutely stunning to see that be proven completely false. There has been so much (so, SO much) freedom in bringing my story and my secrets into the light, and I’ll never be the same.
A resilient faith isn’t afraid to dissent, question, and doubt. (Thanks to Cindy Wang Brandt + so many other brilliant teachers at Evolving Faith for helping me wrestle and worship and reconstruct more of my faith.)
It is a glorious picture of heaven to come to the communion table alongside wanderers, seekers, doubters, and spiritual refugees and be served by a whole host of teachers— white, black, Asian, Potawatomi, gay, female, Pentacostal, Baptist, single, married, etc. In all our diversity and all of our differences, we are all beloved sons and daughters of our Creator, and to share in taking the bread and the wine was incredibly holy. It was a completely heart-changing experience and I’m grateful Evolving Faith made it possible.
Weekly counseling is essential for my health and wellbeing and sanity. I’m sure I could scale back to going less often, but I love the rhythm and routine of it, so I’m sticking with it.
Making a list each month of things I want to do (a mini bucket list of sorts!) is so much fun and keeps me motivated to make things happen. Big fan. (You can download them for the whole year here)
It requires immense humility and courage to be willing to ask for honest feedback, to admit your wrongs and apologize, to open yourself up to criticism and critique, but it is so, so good and worthwhile, every time.
God’s heart is for us, He won’t force us.
“Often the things that don’t appeal to us have the most to teach us spiritually.” (Richard Rohr)
Circumstances + thoughts = feelings.
It’s hard to look at myself in the mirror, and even harder to do so for multiple minutes a day while attempting to speak kindly to myself instead of critically. In doing so, though, I learned a new kind of love for myself and this skin I’m in.
Strength is for service, not status. (Romans 15:1-2)
Boundaries are essential. ESSENTIAL.
“The peace of God is worth anything it takes to get there.” (Barbara Brown Taylor)
Anti-depressants can help save your life. They were a crucial part of helping me get back to stability after a long, hard season of deep depression and severe anxiety. I’m grateful they exist, even though I never thought I’d need them.
It takes serious effort and intentionality to be aware of the lenses you are viewing the world through, but doing so is hugely helpful. I realized just this week that I was viewing things at work through the lens of “I made a mistake, and because of that, everyone is going to think hiring me is a mistake.” OOF. Realizing that was the lens I was looking through was step one, and step two was choosing to look through a different lens instead. HUGE.
Being kind to yourself is essential. (Also hard.) So is speaking gently to yourself.
We confuse proximity to Jesus with intimacy with Jesus — we have to move from nearness to realness to fully experience the sweetness and delight of intimacy with God. (from this sermon)
The Caps actually can win a Stanley Cup— hallelujah!!!
The first time doing anything is always the hardest and most anxiety-inducing, but the second time will feel better and I’ll feel braver, too. Powering through the first time the best I can is the only way to get to that second time. Remembering it gets easier helps. So does remembering that these things that seem so hard and scary rarely really are.
“Whatever we give energy to, we empower.” + “One of our primary rights is to begin feeling better and recovering, whether or not others in our family choose to do the same. We do not have to feel guilty about finding happiness and a life that works.” (Melody Beattie)
Facebook stalking + messaging the cute drummer from church is WORTH IT. Making the first move can pay off in ways you never imagined… you just might fall in love with the best guy you’ve ever known. So dang grateful I get to do life with him, learning more and more about how to have a healthy, Christ-centered, honest, balanced relationship every day. It’s the sweetest season.
God listens to prayers, even if his timeline is very different than mine. Grateful that those prayers led to a new job at my home church. Thankful he is teaching me daily through the work I get to do alongside people I love to serve the community and city I love. It’s an honor and a joy to be part of telling the story of what God is doing in and through Hope.
I’m actually a 1w9 on the Enneagram!
Shark Week is even better when you celebrate with a fin-tastic party and a watermelon carved into a shark and shark-themed snacks and best friends.
I can make kombucha myself! And grow my own veggies! And herbs! And they can all be DELICIOUS!
“There’s power in allowing yourselves to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.” (Michelle Obama)
And here are 27 things I loved this year:
Quiet time basket.