Although I tried to make the best of it, and of course had some wonderful snapshots and experiences along the way, this past year definitely dealt me some tough cards.
Like most of you, I had moments in 2016 when I was proud of myself, and others when I was disgusted. Some days I had my life together and other days no amount of caffeine could rescue me.
There were times I didn’t feel like much of a Christian, or really even act like it.
|taken in Jerome, Arizona|
Like any other year, I had times of laughter and laziness, temper and tears, confusion and complacency, anxiety and apathy.
Although I was adventurous and curious and social and optimistic, I was also cold and reclusive, frustrated and forlorn.
There were weeks I felt like a gold-starred overachiever and others when I felt like the underappreciated underdog.
Am I relatable yet?
Reflecting on this past year reminds me of my personal goals, those I did achieve and those I lost track of.
I owe it to the ones on my brain’s back burner to make them a priority this next year.
In all its bumps and bruises, 2016 taught me many important lessons.
I’ve learned that if I want to read an entire book in one day, sans everything else on my to-do list, then by golly, I’m going to. I don’t have to feel guilty about that.
Sometimes I just need to listen to what my body is telling me it needs; I’ve been the queen of over-functioning for far too long.
I’ve learned it’s equally as important to make time for myself to refresh, reflect, and recharge as much as it is to serve and give of my time to others: How is it fair to them if they only get the stretched-too-thin version of me instead of all of me like they deserve?
This year reminded me that I am still imperfect, and that I need to keep learning to be OK with it. I’m covered in physical blemishes and I carry emotional scars, complexes and insecurities I don’t even like admitting to.
But Jesus and I are working on those things which can be mended, and by His grace we’ll continue to in this new year. There’s no sense in getting ahead of His schedule or becoming frustrated with the pace.
|“Walk On the Wild Side” graffiti art, Roosevelt Row, Phoenix, AZ|
I want to be filled with and express more childlike wonder, unashamedly. I don’t want to care who sees or who cares or who doesn’t.
God did not create me to live apologetically–I don’t need to be sorry for being me. Besides, I’m still learning who that is, like everyone else.
Looking ahead, I hope to inspire and encourage others instead of impress them.
I want to make people around me feel as important as they really are. We all have a purpose and a mission.
I was reminded often what it really means to be successful at the present stage of my life.
If I’m endowed with happiness, and a closeness with my Lord, then I can truly say I’m winning.
2016 boosted my confidence to try new skills and urged me to start taking more risks. Not everything needs to be carefully planned because nothing ever goes according to plan.
Every home project I endeavored to conquer, for instance, took more effort and will power than I expected, and because of that, I will never say “this should be quick and easy” ever again. I’ve jinxed myself every time I’ve uttered those words.
|Dog Beach, San Diego, Cali|
Some experiences are most fulfilling when they aren’t encumbered by expectations.
I had passive-aggressive moments in 2016: I held my peace for fear of rocking the boat or stepping on toes, but in turn I often created more of a burden for myself or ended up with the short straw.
But if I want to avoid burnouts and blowups, I need to speak up, express my mind, and be more assertive.
There are things out of my control, and I’m beginning to come to terms with that reality.
Instead of exhausting myself over what I cannot change, I hope to focus more of my energy on what I do have power over: my own attitude and reactions.
Call it a resolution if you must, but my intent is to be a novaturient, someone who seeks powerful change in life, behavior, or situation. Not because I feel like I’m behind or in need of dramatic transformation, but because I know there is always room for improvement.
I want God’s purpose for me to take better shape this year as I strip away more of my robe of carnality and His glow shines through in its place.
I want my heartbeat to thump in synchronized rhythm with His.
I am determined that 2017 will not be about having more or necessarily doing more, but about doing what is meaningful and intrinsically valuable to my well-being, in all aspects.
I want to do more of what makes me fall in love with the Author of all life, more of what awakens geysers of joy in my soul and adds glitter to everyday occurrences.
As someone named Anais Nin once said, “I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
|from our former rose garden in Oregon|
I want to make more time for those who matter most and actually reciprocate love for me; I hope to spend more days in the company of people who seek and enjoy my presence instead of simply tolerating it.
Even though my “golden year” (I turned 26 on June 26) wasn’t quite so golden as one may have expected, I’ll simply dub 2016 as a learning curve.
This past year was a measuring stick for my patience and a test of self-endurance.
And that’s alright.
I don’t have a single regret.
Life, and years, are only as good as we choose them to be–we can attempt to explore the mysteries and develop a sense of humor over all of life’s ironies, or we can let situations consume us and brand our personalities for us.
I hereby dedicate 2017 to a year of soul-exposure, waltzing bold and barefoot through yet another open door of new beginnings as the Lord takes my hand and leads me on.
What about you?
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act,” Psalm 37:5 (ESV).