Over the past few days my virtual mailbox has been flooded with post after retrospective post about the Old Year and looking towards the New Year. They are all fascinating to read and some are very inspiring, but I’ve noticed that almost every single one has something in common: “Twenty-fifteen was a hard year… I was broken down and built back up again… I learned so much and came out a stronger person… this was one of the toughest years I’ve ever conquered…”
May I tell you a secret?
Twenty-fifteen wasn’t like that for me.
Twenty-fifteen didn’t put me through the fire.
And that gave me a sense of guilt. Even of fear.
What was wrong with me that the trials I encountered this year didn’t break me down? Why was it that my memories of the past year were so bright and vivid and full of light? Was I somehow shallow in ways I didn’t know? Was I forgetting how to learn or was I becoming content with staying just as I am? Had my growth as a person and child of God slowed?
And then I realized.
2014 was one of the hardest years I ever lived through.
Not last year, but the year before is a year that stands out in my tapestry of life as one of the darkest, one of the most painful, one of the most trying years I’ve gone through. That was a time that broke me down so I could be builded up again a stronger and, hopefully, wiser person. A time where I walked through the fire and despaired of seeing the other side. A time when I slowly began to understand just how unconditional God’s love is and just how much worth I am in his eyes, no matter how I look in my own sight.
We are human. We are fragile and we measure heartbeats by time because our finite minds can not yet even grasp the idea of a world that is timeless. We are mortal and in our imperfection we can only handle so much. And who better to know that than our Creator?
To put it very poorly, for me, Twenty-fifteen was a breathing space. A time of bright colors after the storm.
This year I was blessed by so many amazing experiences and moments and people.
In the spring my older sister Holly and I went on our first out-of-state road trip together and we stayed in quaint Bed & Breakfasts, explored deep caves, and picnicked in the middle of a quiet, lushly-green Civil War battlefield. I traced the scars of bullets in ancient trees — half-imagining I could hear the roar of battle –and cried in the graveyard of over a hundred Confederate and Federal soldiers. I walked up a staircase Lincoln once stood on. We attended a lovely wedding, got lost, went on hay-rides through gorgeous fields, adopted the most wonderful Southern couple as our “aunt and uncle,” had far too much Nutella, and created still more private jokes. I fell in love with Kentucky, drank in the glorious scenery much more than I read, went to Chick-Fil-A for the first time, window-shopped in idyllic towns, took multiple character sketches, bought my first Wodehouse novel and made friends with various members of the feline family. We listened to Danny Boy so much I have a hard time hearing it now because it makes me homesick.
The surreal perfection of that trip still makes my heart skip a beat — I hold the memory of it like a beautiful gem.
(inserting a list because, clearly, lists are life.)
— went flying. in a four-seater plane. amazing. we are so tiny in the scale of things. why do we even waste our time with worry and fear when we are faced with the evidence of such majesty and power of God.
— played laser tag and am apparently a natural. this is what having brothers and being a Halo fan does to you. and i love it.
— wrote in cafés and developed a taste for coffee. am i a real writer now? yes that was snark.
— rode on a ski-lift. in the summer.
— fell in love with acting and drama and please, please let me be in another play this year.
— discovered all over again how rewarding and heart-warming and happy it is to be at a church where you belong. where you feel you have come home. thank God.
— won camp nanowrimo july at 25,000 words. which was the most amazing writing spree i have ever done whilst writing long-hand.
— basically wodehouse and sutcliff and rowntree and chesterton and stengl and dicamillo. recommended.
— scrawled a steampunk fantasy thing i adore.
— this blog happened and sometimes i still can’t believe that it is real. dream come true. and here’s a thank you to each and every one of you wonderful people who follow and comment and interact and take the time to read. it means so, so much to me. impromptu group hug! *hands chocolate chips around*
— participated in several read-alongs. also recommended. ^_^
— spent several months as a sunday school teacher. stressful and rewarding and i think the teachers, ultimately, learn more from the students than the other way around. tiny humans, i love you.
— scribbled this in a style i never tried before, and now i love it with all the love.
I visited tiny, gloriously overflowing bookstores, and swam at night in glimmering pools and ate far too much ice-cream and went to the beach almost every week just to sprawl on the sand and read Wodehouse or think happy thoughts. I tapped into my artistic side because adults color too.
I remember the thrill of learning I finaled (I say this is a word, spellcheck) in a well-known creative writing competition. I remember struggling to find the silver lining all the times it felt like our old, old house was falling to pieces around us, when talking to people in face-to-face conversations was torturous because the old fear of being my real self had surfaced again, when I forgot to be thankful for my people and realized just how selfish a writer’s life can be when they spend too much time in their own world. I remember attending the national God Save America conference and feeling that swell of proud and patriotism every time the veterans were honored… I cried more in those three days than I had in a long time, and I was reminded once again of the power and wonder of prayer and how little we use it — especially myself.
I read copious amounts of incredible books, watched old movies with my siblings and cried over The Battle of Five Armies and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Art days trotting about a city with family and good friends were some of my favorites.
I made new friends, so many wonderful, inspiring, supportive people — both writers and non-writers.
Writing every day was something I conquered and, slowly, I’ve begun to feel like that far-off day of publication is a hairsbreadth closer.
Was 2015 an easy year?
No. But it was a bright year.
Sometimes a person’s growth is like silver melted down and re-molded. Sometimes it’s like a tiny sprig of grass reaching steadily towards the sunlight.
I don’t know what Twenty-sixteen holds for me.
But I can’t wait to find out.