As I turned in my last essay, signifying the end of the semester, I felt the relief wash over me. “It’s over.” I thought. I now had five weeks of eternal bliss, reading books I wanted to read and crocheting while watching Netflix. I would not use my brain in any way other than creativity. The next morning I found myself waking up in a panic thinking of all the things I had to do before the end of break; a conference, research, job searching, applications, cleaning the mess that was my apartment. I finally settled on cleaning a little bit of my apartment, the weight of the unaccomplished pulling me down as I went.
I have tried to process a year that has passed me by in a blur, words failing me as I attempt to write it out. I debated whether I would write something in the New Year, thinking it wasn’t wise of me. However, here I am, writing. If anything, I have determined I am doing this for myself. If this helps others understand me a little better or even helps them in some way, then that’s a bonus.
It may not come as a surprise to you, but this year has sucked the life out of me. I left a place I called home for many years, not planning to return. I listened to and cared for many people in my life who were/are hurting. And I placed myself in environments where I was challenged to the core. I don’t regret a moment of it. I have made discoveries about myself that I would not otherwise. However, I was so busy trying to learn and challenge myself that I forgot to stop. I forgot to stop and listen, not only God but to the crying of my own soul.
This has been a year of complete uncertainty, my soul repeatedly being beaten down, the pain increasing with each blow. I powered through, ignoring it. Telling myself that I was okay with it. Convincing myself this was the price I had to pay.
When I finally allowed myself to stop, I began to write, the words flowing out in a cathartic mess. One night I sat absorbing the worship music I had once enjoyed and found myself crying uncontrollably, praying the words. As I prayed, I slowly felt the weight of the year ease off my shoulders.
For most of 2015 God felt distant. Not distant from me, but me distant from him. I had hurt for so long that I didn’t want to approach the mess I knew was deep inside. I refused to talk about it with anyone, holding onto the secrets with an iron fist. I needed to be strong and I needed to be compassionate. Yet the feelings I had were ugly… and I determined no one would want to experience that.
But… He was there the entire time, waiting… sometimes calling my name, pulling me toward him, only to have me back away, tears in my eyes, ashamed of what I considered to be dark.
He waited… waited for me to come to him, poised and ready to take on the burden that had been plaguing me for so long. Allowing me to continue suffering in the darkness as I stubbornly refused to let Him in. As I refused to look at what was happening deep within my heart.
I am so thankful for those moments when I do let go and let it be with Him. They remind me of a time before these 2 years happened. When my faith was much stronger than it is now. When I allowed the discomfort and mess into my relationships, into my relationship with God. When I had begun to experience peace.
I wish I could say that after all of this I feel better. But I am still tired… and feel the weight of the incessant expectations I place on myself. Perhaps that’s disheartening and you wonder if I’m attention seeking. If you do, I can’t stop you. But I think this quote from a friend could help. It captures how I feel right now, and I hope his words will seep in and help you understand me and where I am.
“This is the tale of my story through, and eventual healing from, a very long, dark night. One reviewer of this book suggested that I offer a light at the end of the tunnel sooner than I do. He wondered why I waited so long to introduce hope. One might ask the same of the biblical book Job. Why so many chapters before a resolution?
Because that is the way the story happened.”
–Matt Rogers, “Losing God”
At this point in time, I’m not at the end of this Part of my story. I’m not ready for the page break.
I wish it could be like the Harry Potter books where at the end of the year we have some sort of resolution or clarity but alas, this is not the case (I smile every time I read this sentence).
I enter into the New Year with a deep desire to be at peace with myself and the path I have chosen. I have been asking God, “What are some things I can do while I wait?”
And I have felt the prompting on a few things:
- Engage in Play. My life has always been a serious one. Darkness always seems to snuff out the light. Laughter has become a rarity. I miss that part of myself… I wish to engage with it a little more.
- Read fiction. I’m taking a break from the many greats in nonfiction and have given myself permission to read fiction. Armistead Maupin and Jane Austen being two I cannot wait to start. I want to read stories with characters who are real, not flawless. These stories, despite being in a fictional world, can help make our world a better place. There are lessons to be learned everywhere.
- Write daily. This was one of my goals last year and I just didn’t do it. Fear held me back. I want to have the courage to write and process my feelings. Even the ones that make me feel uncomfortable.
- Find a new church home. It’s time. It is time to move forward.
These are invitations to my friends as well. If you have gotten this far… then you probably have a real interest in my personhood and me. If you would like to provide recommendations or even engage in any of these activities with me… please, don’t hesitate to contact me.
And finally… I will leave you with a quote that has brought me much comfort as I wait:
“Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and let it be there. Until some light returns.”
– Anne Lamott
It wasn’t all bad though. Here are a few of my favorite moments from 2015: