I turned 23 this week. And I suppose I’m a bit nostalgic.
I’ve had this post written in my heart for six months, yet every time I tried to put them on paper, the words wouldn’t flow. Letting those words escape my heart and find its way to a platform meant embracing the reality of those words and throwing away the façade. I wanted so badly to be able to write these words as a way to close out this chapter, to move into an easier season. But God was still working in this season.
I want to tell you that my first year post-grad was terrific, filled with first and lasts and once-in-a-lifetimes. But that wouldn’t be the truth.
This year has been the hardest year of my life.
There have been firsts, like my first big-girl job, and lasts, like the last day in the house I’d called home for 9 years. There were also once-in-a-lifetimes, like that time I broke the rules (for once) and climbed to the roof of a building to look at the DC skyline laced with stars, or seeing my great-grandma being the oldest breast cancer survivor (40 years!) at Race for the Cure.
Those are all filtered views of this past year that don’t show the raw reality of what this year has been like. There have been mountains and there have been valleys; there have been joys and there have been sorrows. And there has been an abundance of God working.
I didn’t start my 22nd trip around the sun with a word to focus on, though if I had to choose one to summarize this past year, without a doubt, it’d be “mended,” in all forms of the word.
Mend: to make whole
I was so painfully aware of how broken areas of my life were that I couldn’t move forward. There were places in the deepest part of my soul that I guarded fiercely, refusing to let God work in those places because it would mean first acknowledging that those places existed.
I won’t lie, recognizing your broken places is humbling and severely humanizing. However, this the moment God sweeps in and envelops us with His grace and merciful love. He leans down and whispers, “You are Mine. You are beloved. You were created with purpose. Let Me heal you.” God brings the brightest redemption from the darkest corners.
Mend: to set right
We like to think we know everything, until we run smack dab into a wall (been there, done that, gotten that bruise). Y’all, I graduated and thought I knew exactly how my life was going to go, and this past year has been riddled with a few “LOL, not” moments. There were things I kept pushing and running towards, and I imagine Jesus was standing there with a bewildered look on His face, gently reminding me that He knows what is next, and if a door closes, it’s because He has other things in store.
We all love to be in charge, including me. There were several times this year I sat and remembered how I pictured my life at different ages this year. My, how things have changed. I can’t imagine my life being different than what it is now. I’m thankful for His graceful closing of doors.
Literally standing with my hands open and praying for His will be done in every part of my life is both one of the hardest and most freeing things I’d ever experienced. Cheers to not knowing what will happen, but knowing that it will all be His will, for His glory.
Mend: to grow back together
In broken chapters, the two easiest ways of coping tends to be pretending the chapter doesn’t exist, or prolonging closing the chapter and starting a new one. I’ve tried both, and neither heals you.
Take a paper cut, for example: the reason those tiny little cuts hurt for days afterward is because the skin doesn’t close back together. Fresh, pink skin is exposed to the wear-and-tear of everyday life, and it’s too sensitive to handle it. Paper cuts that don’t bleed don’t give your body a way of closing itself up. Hurts that we don’t let God cover with His blood will continue to hurt, never healing.
Mend: to improve or strengthen (as a relationship) by negotiation or conciliation
Saying the hard words is just that: hard. And if you know me, you know I like to avoid the hard words. But holding back those words eats away at you, slowly and maybe without you even recognizing it, but it eats away at you, little by little. You can’t 90% forgive a person and then keep that 10% to use later.
Before this year, most of my prayers are what I’d call ‘pretty,’ avoiding bringing up the things weighing heavily on my soul, because “He just knows,” so I didn’t have to address it. But y’all. Addressing those desires, scars, questions, and guilt audibly is so needed. Yes, He knows, before any words ever leave your lips, but the act of bringing those things to the forefront is what brings us together. There’s a reason we make it a point to verbally tell someone we love them.
I’m so glad we were created as relational beings, created by a God who believes in community: that He gives us people willing to speak truth and hard words into our lives, drawing us closer to each other and Him.
“But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.”
He restores. He guides. He heals. He reconciles.