Things never go quite the way we anticipate. If there’s anything 2017 should have left my heart with an awareness of, it’s this reality. Yet here I find myself, a month or so into the year, reeling from the sway of emotions and events that collide to upset all balance. It’s been a strange start to this year, with the undercurrent of bittersweet leaving a chill.
2017 was on many levels an impossible kind of year, *as the most fitting song states* . One full of black days and sky grey and clouds full of fear, storms full of sorrow that won’t disappear, and a coast that’s unclear. One where there’s never air to breathe or in-betweens, and where these nightmares always hang on past the dream.
2018 is the first calendar year without my mom’s presence in it. And that was weird, having that revelation come unwanted as the clock hit midnight and everything within felt like breaking not celebrating.
I’ve spent so much time just trying to wrap my head around it all to some extent, to remind my shaking lungs and nervous heart to breathe, to trust those childhood Sunday school truths I have grown up on. Because He is good, He holds the future, and worry only distances me farther from holding to this truth and from drawing close to all that He is. But worry is the default, anxiety the feeling subtly underlining everything.
It’s a season where everything feels inside out and like nothing is on the right track. So how do you proceed, where do you begin in capturing the feelings and emotions when it all seems too much?
The second I stepped back onto campus, everything was full speed ahead.
The most academically demanding semester.
The weight of walking into a time of year that echoed last spring semester and the heartwrenching pain of walking through the cancer diagnosis and losing my mom. The memories attached to each significant date are vivid and even the smallest of interactions contain traces of that time. It weighs heavy on my heart and pulls out memories and emotions long buried. No one tells you it will feel like reliving it all over again. I forget that grief is never over, often suprisingly stealing into the everyday, and this does not mean you do not believe all you’ve learned and found security in. It just means you have to keep bringing everything swirling around in the cloud of grief to Him, again and again, as you force yourself to remember the comfort, the joy and peace found in His sufficiency.
The press towards jobs and possiblities and what the future holds, because the uncertainty is beyond unsettling.
The fierce determination to make each moment matter as best you can.
The brokenness that’s seemed to follow every step and the insecurity in who you are now, with all these things pressing in.
Because identity is so rapidly buried in seasons of transition and when you are considering everything in front of you in light of all the history behind and the current explosion of hopes + reality + things you want to move towards now, this only makes it come even faster. It becomes a long string of sleep-hindered nights and elevated stress sending your heart into overdrive and endless questions but a significantly smaller number of answers.
It took until last Saturday, at my favorite corner coffee shop, with the standard brunch order of french toast and frozen coffee, for me to settle in.
This semester with its nonstop rhythm, days full with classes and internships and all the work associated with that, has made breathing seem optional. Somehow I looked up and we have less than 100 days until graduation. I don’t think there will ever be the right combination of words to describe or capture this emotion. Suddenly the endings seem so close it hurts.
And so in my coffee shop corner, I am here left with the reality that there is no next, no other semester to invest in the relationships, to get more sleep, to finally figure out a fitness routine. This is it. And that is quite terrifying.
This small college town has held the better part of my heart and dreams and story for the last four years. It’s been the place where I have been transformed and shaped more than ever before.
It’s where friendships have been made that fill every day with joy, the kind of people you can call at midnight, wander into their rooms and break down admitting you need prayer. The kind who challenge you with truth, who remain your friend even in your ungraceful and unlovely moments. Where you can step into the buildings and run into people who will honestly ask how you’re doing and care about the answer.
It’s been where I’ve learned what community truly can be and how much it can change your life, where I’ve watch God show His faithfulness in every uncertainty, major change, friendship, and so much more.
And it’s not just these typical sentiment of a senior talking, as I was trying to explain to friends recently, it has a deeper hold than that. Leaving here means leaving a place that has been a safe space in the storms of the past year. A place that has been consistent, where I have been able to heal in community, a place that I have needed so much more than I ever thought as I walk through grief.
When every last piece of your life has been decidely undecided and a whole new reality than what was before, when the before and after of it all never stops, you tend to value where it has not changed, where you still feel like yourself.
This can all layer until it is paralyzing. Every decision holds a potential last, an ending, a greater impact than ever before. With all of last year lingering around and coloring every view, I’ve felt at a loss for how to proceed.
Yet over and over again, I’ve been reminded that this year is not last year. But God is just as much present. And though it may all be unknowns, He is there, He is still writing this story just as much as before. And just like last year, my heart needs to continually seek Him even in the darkness, the fear, when nothing feels worth moving towards.
In that, I was reminded of this song, one that accompanied me on late night walks after my mom’s complications led to sudden hospitalization, in dorm stairwells as I cried about the loss to come, as I felt more out of control and unsteady with each passing minute.
Jesus, the calm that fills my chest
This peace unstirred, this joy of rest
My weary soul has found a charm
Within the shelter of Your arms
I’m tired of doubt and feeling incomplete
Still, this hope I hold is my reality
Fearless I walk the trackless sea
‘Cause all my life is life with Thee
We can walk fearless through the unknown. We can hold onto hope that is our reality. Because there is One that is there, that knows every last detail of our hearts, every care and fear. One who is always for us, always on our side. We are not alone.
And so into these last months of senior year, with whatever struggles and joys lay ahead, may my heart remember this, find joy in resting in this, find peace in Him. My weary soul is safe and has a refuge. I do not have to live in the tension and worry, because my life is lived with Him, secure in Him.
here’s to fearlessly walking whatever seas face us,