Today is the last day of 2016 and if the title of this blogpost isn’t the aptest way of describing this past year, I don’t know what is.
There have been a lot of memes floating around in the last month that are titled “2016 in a nutshell” and usually feature some sort of flop. Clearly people, especially people my age, have not been happy with 2016. I’m not writing to comment on all of those reasons, but rather to offer my “2016 in a nutshell” and to explain how I relate to those millennial feelings of disappointment but also how I can have unquenchable hope for the future.
This year started off incredibly hopeful and exciting for me. I had just started dating one of the most incredible women I have ever met and I was bright-eyed and optimistic about our future. My passion for music composition was rekindled and encouraged through my first ever film scoring opportunity. My love of teaching grew stronger and stronger; I was elected vice president of our collegiate chapter of the National Association for Music Education at Southeastern. Every week I have had the privilege of traveling to a Boys and Girls club in Lakeland and spending at least an hour with my “little brother”, Jordan (I’m proud to say that this six year old has successfully taught me how to throw a football finally).
I was growing spiritually and being challenged regularly to continue to pursue spiritual growth. Then I wasn’t. During the spring semester (as shared in Overdue and Underway) I struggled a bit. Thankfully, I have people in my life who don’t quit when the going gets tough and I have a God who never stops pursuing me.
This past summer I traveled to Cambodia and then spent the summer working and spending time with Amelia and our friends. Somehow, over the course of the summer, I lost sight of the important things in life. It’s not like anything major happened. I didn’t suddenly start stealing cars or robbing banks or–worse–crocheting. It wasn’t like I abruptly decided to stop reading my Bible or praying. Rather, it was a slow, general loss of focus that resulted in some pretty upsetting consequences.
At the beginning of the fall semester, I was psyched about the prospects of the school year. Two weeks in and I was confronted by my loss of focus and challenged to do something about it. Unfortunately, that situation resulted in the loss of one of the best relationships I have ever had. Despite the unexpected end of Chameliad, I held on to this knowledge:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (thanks Chris)
Almost immediately following the emotional turmoil that I was attempting to sort through that follows a breakup, my semester went to full speed and didn’t slow down until the end of finals week. While I tend to thrive in busyness, it was not helpful to my current emotional and spiritual state. I settled into a spiritual and emotional lull, where I was not actively seeking any kind of growth and I had assured myself that I was fine.
Breakups, no matter how well they are executed, do not leave you “fine”.
Brief intermission to throw out some highlights of my crazy busy, crazy stressful, crazy challenging fall semester:
- I put on the most unique and engaging recital Southeastern has ever seen: Celloween.
- I love my tutoring job at Southeastern and my coworkers are some of the funniest and greatest people ever.
- I spent a week in PA over Thanksgiving break being encouraged and refreshed by family and friends.
- I finished my honors thesis prospectus and am excited about the material and the future of my thesis (more to come on this in the months ahead).
- I had the insane blessing of taking care of a very sick, but very sweet, puppy for a week.
- I made some new friends and we watched rom-coms, went to Halloween horror houses, and had homework parties.
Please discard all food and drink items and return to your seats, intermission is now over.
The week after finals week I was hit full force with the weight of my spiritual stagnancy and unprocessed emotions. My first reaction was not the correct one: I attempted to subdue it all in an entire day of Netflix binging (I know I’m not the only one who has done this…). The next day, (not) alarmed that that didn’t work, I slowly began to recognize that it was time to unload to God and that it was prideful and foolish of me to attempt to continue to navigate with unfocused vision and a dull conscience.
So thus begins the difficult process (and it is difficult) of trusting God and leaning in to Him and chasing after Him daily. I am extraordinarily blessed by friends whom I can call on a whim and cry to and receive grace, encouragement, and be challenged. God is in the business of loving us unconditionally, and this past week has been a welcome reminder of that.
I’ve spent the last week of 2016 with friends that I’ve grown with. Friends that my family has grown with. There is no greater example of the redeeming power of Christ, His crazy, crazy love, and the joy that living in Him brings than the fellowship of three families that seek to glorify Him.
Their laughter has reminded me of the joy of the spirit. Their love has reminded me of God’s sovereignty. Their presence has reminded me that through all the ups and downs of 2016, God was with me, is with me, and will be with me.
2017, I’m ready for you.