What a difference a year makes.
Seriously. Before I even started thinking of writing in this blog, I could easily have said that 2010 was the best year of my life. Which is interesting because, as I look back over my handwritten journal from last year, I am surprised by how absolutely miserable I was at the end of 2009. For example’s sake, I’ll share:
2009 is drawing to a close with 2010 on the horizon and I can’t help looking back at the past year (and grimacing). It has been one of the most difficult (if not, at risk of being dramatic, THE most difficult) year of my life. I have been through so much and just been ……………. turned over and dragged through the ringer. I was just looking at journal entries of mine online that I wrote… up until I quit my job this past January. It’s like I am a completely different human being. I don’t recognize myself. I must have gone through so many phases of progression to get to where I am now – empty, cynical, scared.
……………… (insert a lot more intensely personal stuff here)
I hate writing this because I would never want anyone to read it but I can’t honestly put an optimistic twist on it. I am struggling with the core of myself.
Then, a month or so later, I wrote this:
On Valentine’s Day this year, even though I actually (for once) could choose to go out on a date with a guy, I am planning to go to church (hopefully alone), see Valentine’s Day, the movie (hopefully alone), and make cupcakes (hopefully that I can share with other girls like Katie) – I want to celebrate REAL love (in the face of Valentine’s Day, which I think is the fakest, ugliest, feel-bad-about-yourself holiday) – love from God, love from yourself, love from friends and family. Maybe there will come a point for me when real love also involves a man, but not yet.
Anyways, in reading Blue Like Jazz, Don Miller is talking about love and how if we view ourselves as failures or whatnot, we still haven’t accepted the love of God. I feel like maybe part of why I haven’t felt the love of God lately is because I haven’t loved myself – I still am hypercritical and insecure and concerned with how others see me – yet now I am refreshed at the idea of spending a whole day by myself, on a date with myself 🙂 Makes it easier to believe that God would want to spend a day with me, on a date with me… maybe this is part of what I’ve been missing. Feeling so bad about myself that of course God’s love to me would seem unbelievable. Not that I need to think of myself as great, but maybe I need to start seeing myself as God sees me. I’ve lost sight of that for a long time…
The following week, I did go to church alone. I went to see Valentine’s Day alone. And I ate lots of red velvet cupcakes (which I may or may not have shared). And then, a week later, I reconnected with this guy:
He decided to come to church with me. We hung out more and more, and less than 2 months after I wrote that February entry, we were dating. We’re still dating 🙂 I love him and the amazing relationship I have with him has enhanced my life far more than I could ever have imagined. I’m surprised by God’s sovereignty everyday. While a committed relationship is a LOT (A LOT) of work, I am learning and gaining so much.
However, I’m not crediting the amazing-ness of our relationship to him or me. I believe that the relationship is from God and for God. If He takes Dayne away for any reason, I still have to seek Him and what He wants to teach me. I was completely caught off-guard by the way things developed after February 21st, and I thank God I was finally in a place where I was ready for it.
While my relationship with Dayne made this year more enjoyable than usual, there are also many other memories I have from 2010 (with and without Dayne) to look back on with joy and appreciation. One that stands out: my 25th birthday trip to Miami with some of my best girl friends (Erica, Katie, Jess, & Shelli). Blew me away that they would travel to celebrate with me. I also went back to church this year, found a church that both Dayne and I like, and started (and am still working on!) a Beth Moore Bible study. Read some great books. Watched the girls I nanny grow. Took life a little slower on purpose. Gave myself some permission. I also hosted Christmas dinner for my family this year, and had the best Christmas ever.
All this to say: 2010 was incredible, and 2009 was cruddy. Life is a series of seasons. I don’t know how 2011 will go, but I do know this: seasons are normal, and we need to celebrate the good and seek to understand the bad. We should never stop seeking growth through all of our seasons. And I am incredibly grateful for all the blessings that 2010 brought with it. Ending with blessing #290852093840985 tonight: I am sitting with my feet up writing this entry while Dayne is in the kitchen making me dinner.
“We were made by God and for God… Life is a series of problems. Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort.” – Rick Warren
“…I’ve decided that if I had my life to live over again, I would not only climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets; I wouldn’t only jettison my hot water bottle, raincoat, umbrella, parachute, and raft; I would not only go barefoot earlier in the spring and stay out later in the fall; but I would devote not one more minute to monitoring my spiritual growth. No, not one.” – Brennan Manning, 73 years old, from The Furious Longing of God
“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“If God has something specific for you, you’ll know, I promise. But if He is setting a box of crayons down in front of you (a box of crayons called life) then by all means draw. He’s taught you right from wrong, good from bad, beautiful from profane, so draw. He will be with you, proud of you, cheering you on, so draw. He loves you, so draw in the inspiration of the knowledge of His love. Draw a purple horse, a red ocean, a nine-legged dog, it doesn’t matter. Let’s stop being so afraid.” – Donald Miller