My teacher brain is beginning to turn off, even though I am going to be leading Summer School, we are coming to the close on another school year. It amazes me how quickly this year went by. I am thinking back to the very beginning. There was so much uncertainty in my heart. I had no idea what this year would hold. I only had last year to compare it to, and last year was horrible.
This year has been a year of healing. I have had to work through a lot of the hurt and pain that I didn't realize was embedded deep within my soul. I have had to break down walls that I had built up around me. Some of those walls have yet to even be scraped. I have had to give up on some expectations that I had for myself and others. I have had to give myself grace.
In the end though I have learned so much this past school year. Sometimes I wish that I could make New Year's Resolutions in July, instead of January because I kind of feel like that is how my year goes. Every school year feels like a fresh start. Like a time to begin again, to reflect on past mistakes, and look forward to a new future.
This school year has been by far the best one yet. It hasn't been without struggles, it hasn't been without pain. Yet the journey that has taken place has been one that I will forever be thankful for.
I feel like this year is the year I got myself back. This is the year that I truly understood why I was called to this job, in this community, and for this time. Maybe it is not about being happy 100% of the time, but instead about living life to the fullest. Finding your niche and not letting go.
This has also been the year that I have had to take a hard look at myself and where my value comes from. My singleness is sometimes overwhelming for me, most of the time because of the expectations that others put on me, instead of those I have on myself. I oftentimes feel completely fine with being alone, and not in a relationship. Most of the time I feel content with where I am on this journey. This year though I had times where I had to deal with those feelings of inadequacy. Not that I haven't felt that way in the past, but I had to deal with them this year in a completely different way.
I had to take a step back and ask myself what my life is truly about. Is it about finding someone else, or is it about living and doing the best I can to make this world a better, more loving place? I had to come to terms with the fact that the world, even among my church family sometimes sees me as a burden because they don't know what to do with me. I don't fit any of the "norms" for someone my age and relationship status. I also had to admit to myself that my relationship status might never change. I think that was the hardest part. To say that being married, and having kids... it might never be a part of my story. That season may never be a season in my life. Do you know how hard it is to deal with that fact? To work through that expectation that has been a part of your psyche since birth?
Here's the thing though, I don't feel like I am not living out my purpose if that never happens for me. Because I was able to realize that there are so many people out there just like me! So many people that aren't feeling valued or loved because they are not part of a "couple." They are seeking after that status more then anything else and it is causing so much hurt and pain in their lives. I realized that the greatest gift I can give to this community that I find myself in is to be okay with me. To encourage those around me that feel less than and make a way in this world, to bring change. We need to be a community of people that embraces everyone, no matter what their life journey is. We need to be a community that is authentically real in what we say and do. We need to be a community that has a niche for everyone, that works together to bring people closer to genuine love, and farther away from surface condemnation.
This year has been such a growth year for me. I was at one of the lowest points in my life last summer. I felt truly alone, more so than I have ever felt before, even when I was halfway around the world. I felt alone because I felt like I had been deserted by everyone. I felt like God wasn't real in my life and heart, because I hadn't been given the things that I desired. I felt like everyone was moving forward and I was just in a steady stream of water, not going anywhere.
I am so glad that I got out of that funk. I am so glad that I was able to push past that hurt and pain, and allow people back into my life and heart. I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in how we feel, and feeling like we are the only ones that feel this way...we forget to look around us and embrace the messiness of those that are actually just like us.
I found community this past year, I found purpose again, and I embraced truth. I was able to take a year to heal, which is exactly what I needed. I was able to look back at the things that were said and done to me, and find hope in what is to come. More importantly though I was able to understand the parts of my journey that were tough, exhausting and heart-wrenching that brought me to this place. When we are in the valley we sometimes get so caught up in looking at the trek up the mountain that we forget the valley is there to build us and grow us for the next hike up. I have had so many valleys, it is crazy to think about. So many growing experiences, but I wouldn't change any of them. I wouldn't take them back. It is those times of growth that have gotten me exactly where I am today.
As I look back and recognize the journey I have been on this past year, I recognize that it truly is about looking at the whole path, not just a section of it. Sometimes we have to look at the big picture to see just how much growth and grace has been given to us.
I can't wait to keep going. I think the next mountaintop is just around the corner. It's going to be epic, it's going to change my life!