Old Year, New Year

Much like culture assigns names to generations, at the end of each year I reflect back on what it has meant to me and attempt to categorize it.  2010 was the year of beginnings: my first real job, starting college, finding a new church.  2011 was the year of change: I dyed my hair, went on a crazy piercing spree, changed my major, and tried to figure out what life was all about.  And although there were plenty of both beginnings and changes in 2012, I would have to classify it as the year of growth, simply because I made the most of the changes and began to really understand who I am and where I fit into God’s story.

Being the introspective person that I am, for me the end of the year is a chance to look back and revisit the milestones that brought me to where I am, as I seek to better understand myself, why I think the way I do, and how I can continue to change in the course of another year.  So I’ll share some of those musings with you.

A year ago from right now, I had finally recovered from the crazy tailspin of an awful semester and was ready for 2012 to save me.  I predicted that 2012 would be a year of growth and the best year of my life yet.  I was right.

In January, I went to Passion youth conference in Atlanta.  I’ve kind of been a Christian my whole life.  When I was four, I could rattle off the books of the Old Testament better than an adult, and I was baptized when I was nine.  I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to love God, but there were definitely times when I doubted, when I compromised and followed my own plans, when I wasn’t close to Him at all.  But January of 2012 marks the turning point when I decided that nothing else mattered, and I wanted God’s adventure for my life no matter what that meant.  Perhaps, in a way, it was only then that I truly became a Christ-follower.  And since then, I haven’t even glanced back.IMG_0093

So I started back to school the next semester determined to seek God.  I read Radical.  I read Crazy Love.  I read Ephesians over and over and over again.  And as I plunged headfirst into a full load of English classes, I realized that I had to change my major; God was calling me to youth ministry.  After a serious inner struggle, I dropped one of my English classes, which brought me down to 15 hours.  And now I had even more free time to chase after God’s heart.  I went to church on Sundays, small group on Tuesdays, youth group on Wednesdays, and Sanctuary on Thursdays, holding onto all of it desperately and not wanting to lose the passion I had found.  In March I officially became a member of Grace Chapel and joined the choir.

Seemingly, God wasn’t content with my decision to change my major.  There was something else ridiculous that He was calling me to: Deer Run Christian Camp.  When my friend Caleb first suggested that I apply, I smiled and said I’d consider it while thinking to myself, “No way am I working at a summer camp, ever.”  I went to camp once, when I was in 3rd grade, and I hated it. They made me play sports and I sucked at it and everyone laughed at me.  Besides, I’m not an outdoorsy girl.  There was absolutely no reason why I should work at Deer Run — except that I knew I had to.061912jm_preteen2-163

I learned how to be outdoorsy.  I got used to not wearing makeup.  I got a Chaco tan.  I did the high ropes course and the leap of faith and trust falls and the climbing tower.  I played paintball and taught Bible lessons every day.  I got used to living with the bare minimum and getting creative when those few possessions were falling apart.  I learned to depend on God, moment by moment, in a way I’d never had to before: for physical strength, for energy, for wisdom, for patience, for the right words.  I told a kid about God for the first time.  I saw one of my girls baptized in the lake.  I laughed and cried and worshiped and lived with everything I had.

And then I started back to school in the fall with new eyes, new ears, and an insatiable eagerness for life, determined to be more intentional about relationships and less worried about grades.  I had six Bible classes, ranging from Educating Adolescents in the Church to New Testament Exegesis to church history and Greek, and it was glorious.  During the summer I had grown and been stretched physically, emotionally, and experientially; now it was time to stretch myself mentally as I dug into the academic side of theology.

Another incredible growth experience this fall was my decision to talk to a counselor at Lipscomb.  At first I was a little embarrassed to admit it, but to be honest, all of us have things we need to deal with and work through.  So I did a lot of that, learning things about myself, seeing areas where I could continue to grow, and learning to love myself.  And, following her example, I learned how to listen to other people better and how to ask the right questions to help them reach their own conclusions.

And then there were a bunch of little milestones this year as well: I got glasses which I usually only wear when they match my outfit, I turned 20, and I went to a Rascal Flatts concert, which I’ve wanted to do since I was 14.  I met some fantastic new people, including my beautiful and sweet roommate Morgan with whom I can share anything, and made some great new memories with the old friends.  So there’s not really a lot that was lacking in 2012, and there are no definitive New Year’s resolutions I can make for 2013 but merely to continue living in the present, seeking God in every aspect of my life and following His will even when it seems crazy, loving others and noticing everyone I come across, and living faithfully in the bigger story of which I am a part.

This time next year, I’m sure I’ll be sitting somewhere reflecting on the last 365 days; thinking about a job which I have not yet gotten, classes which I have not yet taken, people which I have not yet met.  The thought is exciting because, when everything falls into place around my relationship with God, it’s sure to be an adventure.  So here’s to 2013, where new lessons are waiting to be learned and new experiences are waiting to be had.  And here’s to you, God; next New Year’s Eve, may I be able to look back and say that I lived it for You.

A picture from Passion, which changed everything this year.

A picture from Passion, which changed everything this year.

Me with my brother and one of my best friends on their graduation day

Me with my brother and one of my best friends on their graduation day

The best group of co-workers a girl could ask for.

The best group of co-workers ever.

Badgers on my 20th birthday!

Badgers on my 20th birthday!

Church buddies at Grace Chapel

friends and fro yo

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