I am insanely blessed.
Passion 2013, YL leader weekends at Great Wolf Lodge and Rockbridge, my first cruise to the Bahamas, bachelorette weekend in Chicago, senior crawl, graduation (and Obama spoke, so there ya go), paint wars, YL leader “prom”, passing the RD exam, camping and hiking part of the Appalachian Trail, work week at Lake Champion, a free trip to California, getting to see several friends get hitched – some of the dearest ones requiring road trips, like one in Indy and one in Tucson, summer staff on bikes at Rockbridge in July, flipping off a bike into the water, making it into grad school, hiking almost 90 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail by Mt. Adams and Rainier, exploring Portland, Charlotte and Charleston, going skydiving, moving to South Carolina, riding an elephant, hiking Grandfather mountain, a weekend at a beach house, Thanksgiving on the beach, home for the holidays. I got to see Lord Huron, Head and the Heart, Cold War Kids, Phil Wickham, Said the Whale, Escondido, Royal Teeth, Pretty Lights, Ben Rector, and some others. I set a new record for how many plane flights I made in one calendar year. I made wonderful new friends and had rich times with old ones. I noticed how in Christ I could live in increasingly more freedom than in years past. I was surrounded by love and beauty in a thousand ways. I explored, learned, loved and laughed.
I am also incredibly cared for.
I have countless scars, internal and external, from these last 365 days: some from adventure and playing too hard and some from harsh disappointments that wrought my heart in two. My heart was broken, for many reasons and often. But I was never alone, and it was never for nought.
Where does that leave me?
Two promises Christ has proven to me in 2013:
1) HE IS BETTER. Better than the highest mountain peaks or the most brilliant sunsets or the hilarious cry-your-eyes-out-laughing moments. He’s better than crisp clear nights full of stars, outstretched beaches, mysterious forests and fields wearing flowers like a gown. Better than the most exciting cities, delicious foods, enchanting music and intense adrenaline rushes. Better than every moment that wrings your heart in joy, and better than every accomplishment to tack to the wall. Better than every night danced away, better than every road trip, better than even the sweetest moments of love and friendship. Better than it all.
He is the greatest prize and the loveliest treasure.
2) HE ISN’T FINISHED WITH ME. In the moments when I doubt His love, am angry at His plan, or stubbornly resist his grace, he stays. In the failures and the sadness and pain, he is right there. In all my imperfections and sin, he doesn’t run or give up or walk away. He takes each broken part, each hurting piece, and shows me more and more of his extravagant love for me.
He fights for me.
He teaches me.
He is patient with me, as he continues to mold me into the likeness of His Son.
And even in the moments when I despair, fearing that healing will never come, when He heals, I am healed indeed (Jer 17:14). He doesn’t leave my wounds open; and though they leave scars, each is used with great deliberation and purpose to guide my often-misguided heart.
I’m still learning to trust, trust that He is going to lead me and that He knows better than I, but this last year makes it easier. The more I see how faithful and gracious and abundantly loving the Father is towards me, the more confident I become. Not because of what He has given me (or not given me), but because of what I learn about Him through those things.
I am a fearful soul, ever attempting to hide, but his patient gentleness slowly draws me into the wide, wonderful, spacious places. And there is where fear melts in the rays of love.
“With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures.” – A.W. Tozer