Tonight I rang in 2012 at the wedding of a student here in Anderson, South Carolina. Last year, I rang it in as the on-call residence hall director in Waco, Texas, meaning I was at home in my pjs. I don’t remember last new year, which probably means I was asleep before midnight.
As I think over the last year, I am still astonished at what 2011 held, and where I am now as I start 2012. I must admit, saying goodbye to 2011 has me rather nostalgic.
What a crazy and joyful year full of hope, hurt, heartache, and promise. It saw the breaking of trust and then friendships while deepening others. It also found new friendships all together- in some strange unexpected places. 2011 was a hard year, in fresh and new ways. Some things that were welcomed and I cautiously
expected hoped prayed eagerly for before their arrival.
Last January I was “outed” in my search for a new job. This was something I prayed about a lot over the last half of 2010, and begged God to open the right doors at the right time. My job search really started much earlier than January (actually began in July, but that was known to only a very trusted few), however, January led to this adventure becoming public. As someone who is her own best critic, I have always felt the need to guard this process and my heart in it very carefully. I kept my mouth shut (no small feat, mind you), and told only a few trusted confidants. But, as with anything, at some point, the search becomes public.
January meant that for me. It held two seemingly open doors- both appealing in very different ways. Two processes that while separated by thousands of miles would become so connected and move in such harmony, that I could not doubt God’s hand was all over it. I was surprised by where God was leading. It was exciting, new, and unexpected. An accidental, seemingly random door to me, but not to God. One of my favorite scripture verses, and one that brings me great comfort was on the front of my mind:
and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him -Acts 17: 26-27
One door closed leaving me shocked, hurt, distrustful, and surprised at who my real cheerleaders were. More importantly- I learned a valuable lesson about community. Community means trust. When you are in community with people, whether neighbors, family, co-workers, or friends, you have to trust them. Sometimes, they screw it up and don’t care for you in the way you trusted them or asked them too. Sometimes they do the wrong thing. However, more often, they do the right thing, in the completely wrong way. Both things hurt.
I’ve been on both ends of that this year- both giving and receiving the hurt.
This journey meant that I learned to confront people better. I learned to be honest about expectations and hurt. I learned to offer forgiveness even if I never really understand. I learned that forgiveness begins healing, but that healing does not mean everything returns to how it was. Healing does not always end like chick fliks.
By mid-March I had a really good idea that I was going to be making a cross country move. By the end of March, that move and it’s details were mostly confirmed. I was moving to South Carolina. To a state that started with a letter other than “T” for the first time in nine years. Over the next two months I packed, planned, and said good bye. It was nothing short of bittersweet.
The summer meant driving across the country, starting a new job, finding a new church, and all sorts of new adventures. I saw dear friends get married, have long awaited babies. I saw friends and family deal with unexpected and unexplainable loss of life, which reminds me of how precious and fleeting every day truly is.
This is why, in the midst of what was confusing, hard and made me anxious, I always felt peace and can look back on it all with a truly thankful heart. Isaiah 26:3 says:
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
This verse, much like oft-quoted Jeremiah 29:11 are promises of God in the midst of terrible circumstances. Life when they were issued, and immediately following them could in no way be considered prosperous, or outwardly peaceful. But, this stands as a reminder that when we stay focused on where God leads, we can trust that His long-term vision is for our good (Romans 8:28).
It means no matter what hard things happen, the end is absolutely worth it. I may not understand it now, or at any point this side of heaven, but I have trust because of who my Savior is, that there is a picture bigger than me in play.
This was certainly true this year. The changes and surprises that came over the last 12 months have helped me to grow greatly. Because of this year I’m a better friend, daughter, and employee. I’m more focused on God. I have a clearer picture of who I am and what I care about most. God has placed me exactly where I am, because He can use me best here. He also placed me here because it is exactly what I needed. I am thankful to be encouraged, affirmed, challenged, and trusted.
God’s picture for my life was so much greater than my own. For that I am so thankful.
So while I close 2011 with a heart that misses the home I had, I start 2012 with a heart deeply excited about the great things in store. May 2012 be a year that is altogether different but fully grand.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. -Ephesians 3:20-21