Everyone keeps posting on Instagram and Facebook with sayings about how “2015 was a _____ year, looking forward to what happens in 2016”. New Years feels weird for me because it is just a one number change from 2015 to 2016. It is good to look back, but why does it make sense to look back every December 31st on twelve whole months? God doesn’t work in twelve-month increments, He works in breaths, thoughts, prayers, circumstances, conversations, tears, all of it. Not only months. So thinking back in 2015 is almost overwhelming, because so much happened, as it should, in twelve whole months. Also, in regards to looking ahead to 2016, we are guaranteed both joy and trial, each and every day. It is a blessing to us that God does not reveal both future trials or blessings; because we don’t need to/ want to know what hard things are coming. And if I knew every blessing in advance, I would probably just get overly excited and impatient to receive them. So it also overwhelms me to group the next twelve whole months together. I just want to live day by day, (maybe more like week by week).
But then I did start thinking back… to last January. It was January when my small group did “spiritual check-ups”, and they were revealing and convicting and powerful. Then we went right into a churchwide study on the 12 Marks of being a follower of Christ, six ways in which we know Him more (love, word, pray, follow, worship, community), and six ways in which we make Him known (give, serve, share, renew, multiply, global). That study was wonderful and a lot of “Ohhh. I see. I don’t. I should. I will. Eek. Let’s pray about it.”
In February I started meeting with my wonderful accountability partner Erica, and got accountability and advice on things I didn’t even realize I needed accountability for, so praise God for that. It is so humbling to admit my brokenness, realize my sinful tendencies, confess sins to one another (James 5) and stand in grace and feel no shame because of how our God loves us. Erica and I broke chains and prayed hard and cried, and those moments in Starbucks with her are so special to me. After the 12 Marks study we did a book study on names of God, then a study on being a stewardship of Christ, and next Jonah. Our small group has asked hard questions and been convicted and learned more about our Creator and it has been wonderful. We went on a ski retreat in February that was a cozy getaway to WI for skiing and laughing.
Ever since then, I slowly started hanging out more and more with my small group, and they became actual friends, instead of just my lovely girls I saw on Wednesdays and Sundays. A birthday celebration here, a brunch here, an ice cream date here. I remember going home in April and being frustrated how I always had to say no so much because I was always studying. This conviction hurt me and I utilized my next clinical time to say yes more (since I had no more studying!). Jonelle and I got closer as we memorized scripture to turn us through our days, we prioritized walking and talking and praying. Jordan was intentional enough for our one-on-one and since then, we encourage and build each other up regularly. Emily and I used our car rides home from bible study for further catch up and prayer and honest conversations. And by summer time we were all beaching and roofing and brunching and walking. So that is what happens when you make space for God to show up; the closer you get the closer you get.
So back to last January’s spiritual check-up. It had us create spiritual goals and I really dislike goals. But I made a special goal to spend 20 minutes a day in bible/prayer and that was probably the most important goal I could have made. In November/December 2014 I remember feeling a call to pray boldly and often. Things would happen and I would think “If I would have prayed more about that it would be so cool to been like yup that was God, to give Him more glory.” So I had decided my one-word for 2015 would be bold. So I began to pray bold prayers, which went right along with my spiritual check up and decision to be more intentional with the word and prayer (two of the twelve marks, too!).
The spiritual check-up also convicted us of any unresolved conflict in our lives. Conflict. Eww. No. I hate conflict. I would rather not talk about it….But I did have conflict. Not to get too detail-y, but it was between my roommate and I and it involved hurt feelings, not addressing hurt feelings, seeking space away from the apartment. So yikes. I started 2015 with that. She and I talked and I prayed about it and we did heal that relationship (praises) bit by bit. But I remember that night at small group because a couple of us talked openly about conflict and what to do. Because that is what we do. That is what God does, He finds areas in our hearts and minds that are not glorifying to Him, and He reveals them to us, and we take them to Him, and He will work. Conflict’s root is “I am not getting what I want”, and it is so so so hard to think how I can accidently hurt people’s feelings by my actions, without even meaning to! When I face conflict, I feel like I shouldn’t be in conflict, that I did something wrong, and great, now look where we are. As a sinner there are always parts of us to reflect on, areas, tendencies, thoughts which probably are “wrong” or un-glorifying to God, yet I also cannot be super hard on myself. I must show myself grace. Grace to you, to me,to the situation, to the frustration. Grace. A hard part of 2015 was me being pruned of an idol of being a good friend. Again, not to get too detail-y, but it was a combination of a few things, and took a little bit for me to realize. Yikes. How can just trying to be a loving, selfless friend while praying praying praying about it turn into an idol? How does that sort of thing happen? Shakes me up inside. Sometimes you need to seek deep truth and seek motives and ask for godly advice from other Christians who know your heart. So yes, 2015 was idol-revealing, grace-needing, wisdom-seeking. And God showed up for all of it. We have so much of an effect on others feelings, we need to be encouraging and loving and care for each other’s hearts. But guess what else? We are human, sinful, broken, and bound to disappoint each other. Reminds me at we cannot have our worth and love source be solely from each other. Let our worth be dictated by our God’s steadfast love.
What else happened in 2015? Two (Emmer/Danielle/Monica) girls weekends in Chicago, two (Emmer/Morgan) weekends in Kalamazoo, Jackie came back from Korea for a two-week summer tease and then for good, Cole had a Chicago summer, Casey got married (!), Lillian got engaged (!). I had a Mexico trip with Meg, Easter church on the beach, Thanksgiving in Belize, cliff-jumping at Rio Blanco, two painful marathons (goal for 0 in 2016), moving from Lakeview to Lincoln Park. In regards to my heart, I honestly feel it was a year of God revealing many things about me: how I tick, what bothers me, my weakness of conflict resolution, my tendency to idolize people-pleasing, being a good friend, and making good choices, my preference for conflict-free and stress-free zones. He also has taught me so many wonderful things like the power of prayer, that His grace saves, I am enough in Him, He just wants my heart, I am His beloved daughter, and so many wonderful truths. I am fully known and loved by God. And that should (and does) change how I live, breathe, think, love, feel.
Clinical taught me to be teachable and moldable, my last trimester of PT school released me of an GPA idols and reminded me of the importance of choosing my hometeam all summer long. Belize taught me more on prayers big and small, making Him known, and that He is my Shepherd. Christmas break 2015 taught me that we are called to serve our family, that He works in us to produce fruits of the Spirit (for example, patience!), and that we must abide in the vine.
Excitingly, I also met the love of my life in 2015. We met in June, and since then, God continues to be at work in big and small ways. He loves the Lord with his whole-heart and mind, and that dictates his daily choices. He purses the Lord in the word and prayer, and one of my favorite things about us is that we seek the Lord both separately and together. From the beginning, he has made me feel so cared for in the most loving way, taking care of me, encouraging me, praying for me, caring for my heart all in reflection of God’s love. Together he and I have felt God teaching us so many truths on making Him known, abiding/obeying, fruits of the Spirit, praying big and small prayers, what love looks like, to embrace brokenness and frustration, and that check lists work for work but not for our Lord! We share a love for affirming words and encouraging others via words and scripture, which have both been a key part of us growing closer. He is calm and hilarious, outgoing and refreshing, gentle and strong, all at the same time. I have fallen in love with this handsome and honorable man, and he was one of my bold-prayers this year. More than I could have asked or imagined though, of course (Ephesians 3:20).
I guess I should also mention PT school, which took majority of my time! I actually did love PT school. Early mornings working out and showering before class, cereal and coffee in class, constant studying. I learned to treat a sweet little boy with cerebral palsy, finished my doctoral research, finished classes for forever (!). I studied and wrote papers for majority of January through April, mostly with Jess and always accompanied by coffee. My summer trimester was my most chill trimester yet, because it was the first time my weekends were not marked by all-day studying with breaks here and there. My weekends were full of beach and roofs and walks and my girls and my cousin Cole and dating Sanjay. My latest clinical in the hospital was fast-paced and I loved it , and then I got to go to Belize which really calmed my soul in the best ways. God provided so tangibly in Belize, praise Him for my time and learning there. Now I am about to start my dream-clinical in pediatrics and my heart gets excited as I have been studying development and babies and diagnoses.
So that is my 2015. I can’t even limit this reflection to the past twelve months (even though I just did?), because God is working in ways that go ten years and minutes and breaths forwards and backwards and sideways, and He is weaving a beautiful mess with the brokenness of the world and with the power and grace and love.
2016; my word is seek because I want to simply seek Him; my Creator and Savior and Mighty God. I want to seek him all-day, on my walk to and from work, during patients, in my time at home. Sanjay also has this little theme to embrace brokenness and embrace frustration (just embrace it!) because it is an opportunity to go to God.
Any brokenness and frustration is an opportunity to go to God, okay, let’s do it.
Also, New Years was just-so-fun. My heart.