Last year's spring // A summary of 2017

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My days have reminded me of last year’s spring as of late. Perhaps it is because the light hits the walls differently, the birds seem to sing more sweetly, or the quietness of the mornings. I have a habit of wanting to reflect and refer back to my past, on the lessons, on the growth, on the uprooting. I feel like this is typical of someone in their twenties, but this is the first week since the beginning of this year that I have felt sure enough to write. I struggle with finding the words to say, summarizing one of the most impactful seasons of my life in only a few sentences. 

I first began this writing, talking about the loss of my journal, of which contained pages upon pages of prayers and reminders of mercies. I often find myself clinging to the words and playing over the compassion and patience that I so often am shown, the hope in my Savior that I can find rest in. I cried, the loss of the lessons and reminders, the heartache, the joy, and the beginnings of my days with a boy who is so precious to me, the thoughts and the emotions – my memory is not what it used to be. It was difficult, and put a pause on this. But after five weeks missing, a sweet friend reached out to me saying she had found the writings. I was overwhelmed, thankful, grateful. So here I am, beginning this again.

The last three-hundred and sixty-five days (give or take a few months) have been one of the heaviest, most arduous periods of my life, where having to allow myself and my heart the grace and time necessary to heal was one of the most trying, yet precious periods for who I am becoming. How beautiful it was, though, to be able to pray and sing and write from one of the darkest places – it is something that I would never change, something that I will always hold dear, as wild as that sounds. 
 

Who am I to ever question my Maker who has been so gracious to bring me thus far – thinking He would ever leave?
— Hannah Forsberg

I was shaken (spiritually and quite literally), called stupid for my beliefs and convictions and for who I was, and ultimately was brought to a brokenness that left me on my knees. Yet, I was left with a faith more shaped and prayers more deliberate, pleading that if anything were to come of what the year held, that I would learn to be a woman with a heart that was left more kind, more tender, and a faith that lingered and clung to the cross with a grip more steadfast. I prayed that my grief would turn to seeing more joy in the mornings, more sure of the Lord’s certainty in the times that seemed most uncertain. And those prayers were answered tenfold.

Here’s the thing: when you are wrecked, it is crippling. The world seems to continue on. You stumble, trying to dust yourself off, yet feeling like you do not entirely know how. You have days where you cannot help but feeling sad, wondering when the happier and better days will start to outnumber the

former. If we are being truly honest, I had many weeks that left me questioning my faith and who I was and what my purpose was in life. How could a good God allow these horrible things to happen? Why? So often, I felt like I did not understand who I was anymore. I felt lost and frightened because I did not know what He was doing. Most of the winter and spring months, I struggled with anxiety, days of depression, and feeling overwhelmed, not knowing which areas I needed to focus in on, or how to balance it all in the midst of what I was going through. It took its toll on me and I needed a lot of grace. I was angry and upset with myself, with God, and had moments where I thought it would be easier to walk away from my faith. And I hate writing that. But, I learned, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other (even if it drags), that He is faithful and so incredibly kind in all of His dealings with me, that He ultimately (not time, though it helps) heals all, and will never ever leave or drop His children, even if they feel like it. Eventually things did get better, but it was hard to keep all of this silent while running a business, trying to be diligent in all that was expected and required of me, trying to be a good sister, daughter, friend, student, and business owner. While it might have seemed from my social media that I was having a successful, wonderful, year, I struggled a lot; the only people who knew were the girls in my small group, a few close friends, and my family.  But on the other side of it all, I am so glad to be to look back and remember it all. I write so that hopefully, if you find yourself in a place similar, that you don’t feel alone.

It is a humbling thing to look back and realize how last season was exactly what I needed, how there was a purpose and meaning behind it all, that it truly was no mistake – the events, the people, the memories – to realize I had been placed, purposefully and kindly and intentionally out of the deepest love. It was hard to wrestle, to come to the conviction that God never does things to His children, but always, always for them: their good, their growth, their molding to be like His Son, and His glory. My fickle, sinful heart, is so prone to think otherwise. My heart had to be stirred and broken in this way, to be left in awe. Who am I to ever question my Maker who has been so gracious to bring me thus far – thinking He would ever leave?

It has been: A year of understanding, tiredness, brokenness, yet ever so tenderly, full to the brim of healing and a whole lot more joy than ever because of Him. A year of photographing the most beautiful weddings and celebrating marriage alongside so many. A year of finding that my heart can feel and fall in love all over again, after being sure that it never would (though more on that, another day). A year realizing even more clearly than ever that Christianity, the gospel, is for imperfect people. It's for broken people. It's not for those who have their life all together or who are the most spiritual and follow all the rules. It's a message of grace, and redemption, and the deepest kind of love, and for you and me. And that is a beautiful, comforting thing. It's been a year of being left recognizing, that there is so much delight and love that comes out of everything that is given and taken away – even the darkest of situations. Realizing, time and time again, you always, always grow, and that He is always, always good no matter what comes into your path.

My anxiousness still gets the best of me from day to day (more frequently than I would like, if we are being honest), but I am learning that everything, the trials, the joy, the questions, the answers, the doubts, the uncertainty, is so necessary to my being molded into becoming more and more like the woman I am meant to be. It's been a year of realizing that though I am a great sinner, Christ is a great Savior and He has filled my cup, holding my lot, lavishing grace upon grace, my heart being taught over and over to say, “I need him most”, “It is well”, and “I need not fret, He is a trustworthy and kind Father”. 

I’m praying that this year, while portions still seem so uncertain, that I would find rest, expectant and trusting and grateful of all that is to come…That I would find myself even more so overwhelmed with gladness, my song being one of surrender, one of confidence saying, "Not as I will, but as You will". I’m praying that in the days to come my heart and hands would be wide open, receiving of all that He gives and withholds (because is it not ALL good and what’s best for me?). It’s far more easy to write all of this than living and breathing it in the mundane, day to day, but goodness, if it were easy, it wouldn’t still be called faith, now would it?