The question of who we are is answered in everything we do. In the music we listen to -- the songs we know we should hear and the ones we choose to listen to because we're too tired to hear anything but what beats to the same rhythm of heartache that we do. It is the books we decided to read or not read, the words we put together or the words we left unsaid. It is the times we chose sunlight over rainy days or the times we didn't know how to love the light at all. It is the evenings when we held hands tight to bless food that we shared all together and the days when the loneliness was too much and we couldn't eat at all.
And yes, I am talking about my past year, mostly, but I'm talking as a writer as well, and as a writer (if I can dare call myself that), I write the story that comes as I go and the life that trails behind me is the story I try to put into words. As a writer, prospering depends upon the thoughts and on the feelings in a moment of just-right collision; but also to study the voices that say what we hear and to hear the absence when silence is noisier than sound and to question it all: why?
But on the outside is built a lifetime of knowing and learning how to live. Whether she is hiding or she's letting you in, it requires enough courage or perhaps lack of courage to open every door and tear down every wall and let loose every defense because what we want most of all is just to be -- and we cannot be if we do not let in all that will and must come. It is an entire lifetime of vulnerability, I think -- all one broken moment and day into the next.
And this time last year, in my grey-blue December, I thought I understood loneliness, and then thought I never knew sadness could be so heavy when my heart took me on paths I never planned on. There are some pains that are too strange to speak of much, but December taught me a lot last year.
Streaming in scarlet-red, January was a month I felt too much, with a happy visit from Jon and Lindz and final theatre rehearsals and people and friends who changed me with their words, with their love, with who they are.
In February I let go -- or tried to -- of a dream I never planned to have but I tasted just a morsel of what love actually has to look like and thought again how things never are as they seem and waiting is hard, and letting go is harder, but it is all worth it in the end. But letting go never happens all at once and March marched in like a quiet dusty-grey lamb -- grey again, yes, -- and I taught myself again to let go...but do we ever really learn? And the great adventure in the land of the Irish was had with five of my favorite friends on an Island where the land meets the sea and the sea is just a wetter version of the sky and I learned a little more about poetry and pain and love and holding on and letting go and mostly God, really.
The adventure ran into April and lasted long enough to bring me home new and changed -- a little wiser and a lot sadder in a hopeful sort of way, perhaps. I tasted trust in April -- a steady, green trust -- that I wish could say is what I taste every month of the year. It is a coming and going sort of trust.
I don't know what color May was this year, a whole rainbow perhaps. I had friends graduate, and a brother graduate from college, and I spent time with cousins, and I turned seventeen and knew I was loved. I got to see Jon and Lindz again and went to a wedding and got ready for summer.
June and July were golden-yellow, with lots of sunshine and ridiculous emotions. My heart cracked apart too many times and I thought I learned how to heal myself. I went to BWSC and spent time with dear, dear friends, and went to Peru again and learned how to give of myself when I least feel like it, and taught 1st and 2nd graders about God at VBS and went to Maine and had a whole week of pure joy with some of my favorite people (my mom's side of the family). Looking back, it was a great two months. Hard, in too many ways, but really wonderful.
And August till now? The months blend together, and it is hard to separate them. I have struggled with heartache and relationships and longing and depression and I have struggled with accepting God's love and accepting other's love and I have struggled with letting myself heal and with not constantly being upset with myself and mostly I have struggled. A lot. It's been an odd semester. But God never gives hard without good as well. Musical theatre this semester has been for the most part phenomenal, and I dreamed the whole time of getting to do it with Zach again, and what do you know, he was offered the lead male role more than halfway through production. It is so much fun to be doing theatre with him again. And I dreamed all semester of being able to see Josiah again at Christmastime and maybe even see Seth and Leah again, and oh it makes me glad to be able to say both those dreams are coming true. I have such a loving Dad.
Funny how a whole year could happen in such a short amount of time and even more to think we could grow and change so much in just 365 days and nights. But days consist of moments and nights exist in our breaths in and out and it is when we realize the greatest success is just obedience in each moment and how we heal is all-complete in each breath: that is how we know we have grown. Our eternal hunger has just one source of Satisfaction, and it is those many nights when we can't find It when we realize It is what we want. And our One Source works in the moment to weave each thread of hope and fear of terror and pain and joy into the tapestry of Love--of Life.
I want to capture some of the light that was scattered too generously in my life this year. I am so thankful for:
|Last year's youth group Christmas party--I love these people and I love the laughter we've shared.|
|My family, last Christmas. This year we are complete and whole for Christmas. :) So thankful to have Josiah home now.|
|Bringing in the new year with two of my favorite people in the world. Sarah and Lydia are the best.|
|An amazing visit from Jon and Lindz in January. I love them so much.|
|Theatre makes friendships that are different than any others. I loved getting to know James and Clayton and Zach so much better through theatre.|
|Seeing my beautiful Bekah at my theatre performance in February. She is one of the most beautiful girls I have ever met and is an amazing inspiration and encouragement to me.|
|Our amazing trip to Ireland.|
|Boat rides in Ireland--it doesn't get much better than that.|
|Grace and I have known each other for so long and we enjoyed special times this year together.|
|Getting to act alongside Dar Draper, my favorite director. :)|
|BWSC with amazing friends. Zach and Clayton and Lydderz and I hung out the whole week long and I truly wouldn't trade that week for anything in the world.|
|Getting to fly on this plane to one of my favorite places--Trujillo, Peru|
|Having the amazing Cat by my side this whole year--she is one of the best friends I have ever had, has been there whenever I need her, and keeps me stable when I'm not. She is such a huge blessing.|
|Getting to know this spectacular girl--Allison is beautiful inside and out and is a faithful friend. I have learned so much from her and am so grateful for her passion for life.|
|Getting reunited with this beautiful Katie in Peru. I met her last year on my mission trip and fell in love with her laugh and with her joy, and my heart broke with happiness when I unexpectedly saw her during my second trip to Peru.|
|Getting to spend time with this amazing brother pal. We have been through a lot together and we're not through with each other yet. :)|
|This girl--beautiful Ellie Davenport. I am so proud of her amazing skills in adapting to life in Peru and inspired by her sweet spirit and joy and zest for life.|
|Getting to see Beauty and the Beast at the Blumenthal--a dream come true :)|
|Getting to see this guy--Seth is one of the biggest encouragements in my life ever. He is an amazing writer and challenges me to be better, and he writes the best snail mail letters. I am so so grateful for him, and so grateful that I get to see him two times in one year this year. :)|
|Getting to know this beautiful cousin, Kayla. She is a strong and ardent daughter of Christ and inspires me with her faith and hope and love.|
|These beautiful girls--one sister and two cousins who might as well be sisters. I love them so. :)|
|Getting to be a bridesmaid (first time!) in my childhood friend Dorothy's wedding. It was a joyous occasion, and I especially loved bonding with my twin bridesmaid, Fern.|
|This girl. She is the best thing that's happened to me besides Jesus. Lydia's a keeper.|
|This kid. He is funny, devoted, thoughtful, with an enormously big heart. He is a favorite.|
|This girl lights up my life--I love Lynnea so so much. She is such an example and encouragement to me and brings me so much joy.|
With a predictably heavy dose of senioritis, the nostalgia is settling in far too early for my liking. And the changes that are coming are a little too vast and difficult for me to wrap my head around entirely, and "if I could make these moments endless, if I could stop the winds of change," perhaps I would. Perhaps I would. But I can't. And it makes these fleeting moments here and now all the more sweet. And oh it is sweet consolation to know that truly the best is yet to come. I said it last year, and I am saying it again, because it is what I tell myself almost every day, but mostly, because it is true.
Ann Voskamp says, "The joy is in the journey because the moments build the destination. Joy isn't ever in a season but in the way we see. Grace and mercy saturate everything." And that is what I want to find this coming year. I want to learn to love life and really live. I have done too much mere existing this year past.
But what I am really clinging to are the words of another writer also near and dear to my heart and he says, "With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be, and the moment which heals her old inferiority complex forever will also drown her pride deeper than Prospero's book." And this holds me together and oh I can't wait to talk and talk with my dear C.S. Lewis in heaven. :)
In Him all things hold together, and that means me too. It's been a year of Him holding me together, and I am blown away and still kind of stunned about it and oh so grateful. I'm glad to know it can be done, holding me together, that is, and I am excited about another year of that. He who calls is faithful; He will surely do it.