(Warning: This is about to get extremely longwinded... But I promise there will be pictures)
Let's be honest: in more ways than one, 2011 was not my favorite.
Some major, and proverbial, shit hit the fan (without so much as my verbal or written consent - the nerve!) and shoved some frustration, heartache, anger, jealousy and other assorted aggravation right on down my throat.
And now the year is ending, yet there are some things I'm not ready to let go of; some serious bones I've got to pick and I don't feel right about dragging all that crap into the new year with me.
Frankly, there are a fair few reasons I'd like to punch 2011 in the face ("What's UP twenty'leven! Why you gotta go mess with mah happiness?! Imma knock you silly soon as you turn around!") (because a good old fashioned "Why-I-oughta!" just didn't have the same sense of poignancy I was going for).
But really, I just want it to be tomorrow already. I want to get started on this New Year. I want to put 2011 behind me, take what I have learned from it and use it to make 2012 better.
On the upswing, I can't dwell on the bad without being thankful for the good. And there really was so much more of that than I could have imagined. It's just that always having been that irritatingly happy person (and genuinely so) for so long, I didn't take to this newfound sadness very well. But as my beautiful friend Heidi so sweetly put it, this may have been the ugliest chapter of my life, but "also the most beautiful if in our brokenness we lean on Christ." And THAT is the number one thing I am thankful for this year. I learned/am learning to trust someone else to help me with the things that worry me (and more importantly, I am learning to not WORRY so much in the first place!).
I have always believed in God, but not until this year - when the rug was forced from under me - did I really have to lean on Him so heavily. When life has taken turns in the past, I have decided how I wanted to handle things and dealt with them myself. Didn't like the way something was going in life? I changed it. Something broke? I fixed it. I'm pretty good at getting in my own head and figuring things out (the blessing of being an introvert).
But this time, it wasn't working. All of a sudden, my mind was blank. My resources were sapped. I had no. idea. what. to. do. And so, earnestly and as completely as I could, I opened up to God and asked Him to help me. Really, truly help me.
And over the course of this past year, He did just that (again, to quote Heidi's post, "God is faithful").
First, He broke me. He took away the thing that was most important to me (at the same time one of my best friends moved across the country to embark on a new adventure - "hi Mike?").
But then He promised me it wouldn't be a permanent break. He picked me up and led me home where I was met by my family and a surprise visit from Blake to make me smile again when all I wanted to do was cry (ok, did some of that too, but that's part of the process, right? That's what margaritas are for).
When I got home to Portland, He promised me I wouldn't be alone and gave me the two best pillars of support in the world - Robin and Dean.
He reminded me that no matter what, my friends would be there for me and help me figure this all out.
He brought me to a church where I feel at home and am inspired all the time to keep the faith, no matter what comes at me. He also took a clever route and took Jared out on fire (which, when we talked about it months later, we both agreed was good for both of us in light of everything that had gone on).
He gave me Brigette, reminding me that there was love "all the way from here to there".
He gave me Shamoo, checking in to make sure I was doing okay when things were especially tricky.
He gave me time to spend with my girls - Laura, Ashley and Maria - as we all welcomed sweet baby Jack into the world (and three Aunties were born!) and then watched one of us marry the love of her life!
He brought a new friend into my life who made me smile when I kinda wanted to hate the world (and who danced with me, which is always a good thing).
He took me across a country and across an ocean to see old friends - London was a reawakening. A rejuvenation. He took my mind off of things when I needed to just relax.
He let me grow in a job that I love with people I love.
He gave me the freedom to spend Saturday nights with Jodi and Caitlyn at our favorite Red Hills Market eating too many roast beef sandwiches and drinking endless bottles of bubbly on the patio all summer long.
He shared our smiles with the happiness of continuing life as Kamdyn turned one year old.
He blessed me with another year in the city I love with my friends (old and new).
He gave me the opportunity to visit a friend and try new things (camping & wakeboarding - okay, watching people wakeboard... FUN! who knew?).
He brought Jared home safe from fire season, thus reuniting The Camaraderie (I still need a photo of all five of us).
He aligned some stars so that I could not only see my family again, but meet someone new even as it meant saying goodbye to someone at the same time.
He proved to me that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to right now, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.
He allowed for all of us to be together on Thanksgiving, sharing good food, good drinks and a renewed happiness in my heart.
And before I knew it, it was Christmastime again. He gave me a reason to think on the One who made this whole thing - this whole life - possible for me. When it's good. When it's bad. No matter, so long as you're surrounded by people who love you.
The whole thing resides in the balance and though I know it's not the same for everyone, nor should it be. Robin put it so well in a post yesterday:
"Healing is likely relative. What works for one person may not work for the next. So on, so forth. It's completely understandable. We have all been damaged in our own very unique ways. That being the case, there's no possible way that healing can mean the same thing for everyone across the board. I think this is a good thing. What would this life be if the formula for each individual was exactly the same?"
All I know is that when I had no other option and I knew I couldn't do it on my own, I turned to the One who showed me that everything I needed, I already had. I always had my friends, I always had my family and I always had Him (teamwork!)
And so with that, I am ready - more than ready - to take on a whole new year. I'm ready. And most importantly, I am optimistic.
In 2012, I want to stop dwelling and learn to trust more. I want to continue spending time with the people I love. I want to be there for them the way they have been there for me. I want to grow in my faith and finally, finally, finally trust God enough to let His plan evolve in my life (because obviously my plan didn’t work out – why am I shocked?).
I want to truly believe that He will lead me to the places I need to go and the things I need to do. This year I want to let God show me just how strong I am and how powerful I can be in my own life when it comes to dealing with the many ups and downs (teamwork people, teamwork I tell you!).
This year I want to remember that faith in God includes faith in His timing. I will not be anxious, I will not be angry, I will not be envious, I will not be sad – at least as much as I can help it. And when I do start to feel these things creeping in, I will not be afraid to turn to the people I know will be there for fear of seeming or feeling weak.
Like I said, this year has been rough but the bad never outweighs the good.
Happy New Year!
This one goes out to The Camaraderie...
(top photo via)