Grow. This one word, grow. It means so very much. It is life summed up in one process. There is never a limit.
Becoming throughout a season and an entire lifetime.
Word of the year award right here.
Or maybe it’s fighting with change for the top spot. But as a sign of just what the change has done, I pick grow to categorize this.
The past year has been an adventure beyond what I could have ever imagined. From graduating high school to completing my freshman year of college. It has been probably the most intense period of growth, change, and transition in my life ever. For someone who grew up with home as the base for everything and the same basic routine for years, having all that switch was difficult. I struggled to understand why it was all so bittersweet, dynamics changing right and left, old patterns that I loved dying, but new adventures and doors opening.
The goodbyes and natural endings that came with graduation were full of nostalgia and disbelief that we really were supposed to be big kids now. My last week as a camper at summer camp was full of times where I was amazed by the faithfulness of God in writing my story. Then came leaving home and moving to college. I spent the first few months crying a lot every time I left home. But looking back, I wouldn’t trade the time and chance to be with my family every Sunday for anything, despite how hard it was in the moment. Being part of a close family and having some gems of friendships, I was scared that my relationships were going to be altered. And yes, they were, but they were also deepened in ways that I could never imagine.
I missed the relaxed and flexible pace of being home schooled. I had to learn to be really self-disciplined and surrender my own agenda, both of which I have always been bad at. I missed watching shows at night with my family, giving my nephew goodnight hugs, being able to write songs whenever I wanted, babysitting, and so many other little things. My life was now in two worlds, both of which I loved, and I felt torn between them. Often I still feel pulled by them both.
However, God taught me the beauty of being open to the next adventure. Slowly, He worked in my heart to help me be grateful for the fantastic new friends and community I’d been given at school. Not a replacement of the old one, but an expansion, ever increasing and turning richer the relationships in my life. My faith grew so much, being challenged by professors to dig deeper into the Word of God to truly understand why I believe what I believe and how to view the world through the lens of Scripture. The professors invested in me and prayed for me and helped shape me. Daily chapels challenged my heart to not grow complacent but to continually pursue Christ in everything and above everything. Relationally, I was stretched and grown and discovered that though loving others can be messy and hard and inconvenient to my own little world, but oh so necessary and beautiful and worth it all. In the end, loving God and loving others is the reason why we’re here. I tried new activities, stepped outside my comfort zone, and learned that it’s okay to mess up. I struggled with finding my identity, being comfortable in my own skin, and loving the process of becoming who God is making me. One of the most crucial things I learned was that it is not me, but Christ in me that makes me complete, that causes me to reflect His love well to others, that turns my mess into art, that causes my creativity to paint a picture of His story at work.
I have come to understand that arrivals and departures are the nature of life. We enter into this world and inhale the oxygen of a hurting and broken place, yet filled with so much hope. We live with goodbyes and hellos exchanged as naturally as the sun rising and setting every day. And someday we depart this earth for the world where we truly belong. Arrivals and departures. A natural rhythm.
Change is extremely tough, but incredibly worthwhile. Being the huge Lord of the Rings fan that I am, when watching those movies over Christmas break, I compared my situation to the stories. Like Bilbo and Frodo, I could remain tucked safe in my cozy house and routine. But there’s a part of me that needed the adventure and that was made alive by it. My journey was clearly being pushed to this point. God had opened all the doors before me. And though I missed the familiarity, I really wasn’t that far away from all I held dear, and got to embrace the beauty of new places. Like Frodo, I return to find things different than I left them, the familiar wrapping around and settling in in slightly shifted ways, but that just leaves more joy to be uncovered. After all, the point of the journey, of life, is that you come back changed, and though there may be an ache from leaving things behind, it has all been for the better. Learning to be brave, to make the most of every day and the ordinary moments, to do the best with the time that has been given to me, was one of the best things that could have happened to me. My heart has been transformed in ways I can’t begin to describe, and chapters have been written in this story and begun that I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams.
The game plan has changed. Out of nowhere, blindsides have arisen. Yet as much as some fears have been brought to light, there is security. Somehow, somewhere along the way, my heart was being prepared for this. And the things that once seemed so horrible and hard to face, like professional interviews and copious amounts of change, I am adapting to, becoming used to the uncomfortable. Learning to face life brave everyday, live in the moment, and watch the beauty unfold in the ordinary yet difficult matters you face. This is lovely, seeing the messy and ugly and unexpected form a collision of colors that renders the most wonderful artwork, designed by the One who holds the galaxies and this little heart in His hands.