Heading into this stretch of the year, I knew it would be rough.
At first glance it seems so promising.
December the month of Christmas magic and birthday celebrations.
January the month of new beginnings and rhythms and sky high hopes.
February the month of short length but full to the brim days that bring an amazement for the nature of time and the gift + mystery that it is.
But underlining it all, the heavy notes of grief, living through first holiday seasons, anniversaries, the transitions of a new and final semester.
And I knew my heart was not ready to face it on many levels.
Yet, His faithfulness outlines every season, and looking back this one was no exception. So here in one place is a collection of things that point out His faithfulness, from the small details to the grand picture realizations.
- Complete lists are vital to my functioning as human being. Listing out everything you want to do is one of the best practices for your soul. Seeing it in black and white truly gives you a release on the crazy expectations and desires you hold for any day. While I make lists like no other, I usually just hit the highlights. Including the small stuff, the hopes even for your spare time, gives you a better idea of where you are really at.
- Rend Collective’s song Weep With Me is the most honest song that my heart so needed. See I have trouble viewing His goodness when everything is so far from the light. I struggle even more with the concept that in all things He loves me still, even when I feel most unworthy and not-enough. And so I repeat these phrases like a mantra.
Even in the darkness He’s beautiful. Even in the shadows He loves you still. What’s true in the light, is still true in the dark.
- This is Us absolutely wrecked me on every level emotionally. It’s been beautiful, heart-wrenching, far too real and close to home. And that’s what has made it so impactful, something that reaches into our stories and meets us where we are, not in a fantasty version of our lives. One scene in particular made me cry, the ugly can’t-breathe-mascara-running kind, thinking of my mom and her intentional care + example in my life. See it’s funny how life can parallel our favorite stories, and this one is no exception, making me richer for it. The scene is located here, in the event you are caught up/want to watch it. (But fair warning SPOILERS found there) This Is Us | To Build A Home.
- Some seasons of life are particularly difficult and painful. There is no avoiding this fact. Sometimes this means every answer out of your mouth to the question of “how are you doing?” will feel sad, gray, and negative. And when you want to have joy, to be positive, to be in a different place, it is more important to be honest, so that we can walk through it in community together. Life is just hard sometimes. You might even find that your friends are the ones who will remind you that you are loved, no matter how rough around the edges you may feel right now. So be brave, be honest when it hurts, still reach out to others when you can, and know that you are loved.
- Going along with that last point, it can be hard to do the whole “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” thing. It’s the hardest and most important part of walking through life together. There will be days that you struggle with it, taking on other’s burdens when you feel so lost yourself. Wondering how you have enough capacity to sheerly hold the information, let alone pray, give support, and be there. And I love that this quote states that, gets the heart of this issue. Because this is one of the hardest and most worthwhile things to learn in life.
“That’s why it’s hard, I think, to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I love that line from the Bible, but it’s so incredibly difficult sometimes, because when you’ve got reason to rejoice, you forget what it’s like to mourn, even if you swear you never will. And because when you’re mourning, the fact that someone close to you is rejoicing seems like a personal affront.” | Shauna Niequist
- Hearing Zac Efron sing again in the Greatest Showman was the perfect throwback for my twelve-year old self. It’s been quite a while since those High School Musical days, but he’s still got it. On top of that, a love story has not touched me so much in a long time and I had chills in the theater. In the rush of life, sometimes we need to relearn the art of getting lost in stories again.
- The south is a magical place. They have porch swings and sweet tea. It’s also the one place where you can get a deep fried cinnamon roll (which is actually surprisingly and delightfully good) and where you do not once have to explain your double name.
- When stressed about the future and sentimental about leaving, documenting sunrises + sunset views you pass everyday & making a list of quotable moments from conversations this year are a way to adjust. It helps you slow down, process the moment, keep track of the seemingly insignificant moments that you know you will look back on and miss. So keep those tangible reminders close. I can’t tell you how many occasions I’ve deep laughed to the point of tears over rediscovered quotes or had my eyes well up from the joy of those simple views of the sky captured.
- End of the year reflections can be simultaneously draining and life-giving. I went piece by piece through journals, blog posts, stories shared via social media, to form a picture of each month. Then I sat down and tried to spill out all the creative words I could think of to describe the essence of each month, the ways I’ve grown this past year, the threads of His faithfulness running throughout it. I’ve seen vividly how His past faithfulness demands my present trust. But still, I was extremely unprepared for the intensity of the emotions that came out, as I walked through the sections of loss and grief, of remembering my mom, the chapters of confusion, the joys that unexpectedly came out. By the time I finished them, I spent the rest of that first week of January in a daze. I was overwhelmed with sadness and uncertainty over this new year, but grateful to have made it through the craziness of 2017 and to be forcing myself to recongnize this. I can truly say, even so, it is well with my soul.
- Jesus is better. If there’s anything I am constantly having to learn, this one is the hands down winner. Grief is hard, a lot of things are hard, and it’s okay to admit that, and even better to bring it all to the One who can hold the hurt. May the hardness of it all not stop me from seeing + declaring that Jesus is better and that He is so at work through it all. May the victories + joys that still unfold bring me to smile wider, let loose a little, remember there is much joy to be found yet, and keep me always sharing that Jesus is still better. I’ll probably still cry at everything and still wrestle with the weight of grief, but I can (and have to) still share the stories of His goodness through that, because He is better. Here’s to hard seasons + leaning into the truth in them, a thousand times every single day.
In all my sorrows, Jesus is better – make my heart believeIn all my victories, Jesus is better – make my heart believeThan any comfort, Jesus is better – make my heart believeMore than all riches, Jesus is better – make my heart believeOur souls declaring, Jesus is better – make my heart believeOur song eternal, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
So there you have it, the joys and shadows of winter 2017-2018. What have you been learning? And how will you share it?
Here’s to continual recognition of His faithfulness,