Becoming Bethany

Observations on becoming and being

Month: December, 2014

My Year in Review

My Facebook “Year in Review” photo album kept popping up on my feed. I chose “Hide from timeline” more than once but the next time I logged in, there it was again. I didn’t want to look back on 2014. It was the hardest year of my life. I just want to put it behind me and move on. But finally I clicked on the album in the vain hope of finding some way to permanently delete it from my feed.

When the photos started scrolling, I was startled. Somehow I had forgotten that of course Facebook doesn’t know about all the painful parts of the year. There is no photographic evidence of the pain, heartbreak, and betrayal I experienced. Instead, I saw photo after photo of all the really good things that happened in 2014. Exciting trips to incredible places, new friends and re-kindled friendships, a fun summer of events including the best concert I’ve ever been to. How could I forget and overlook all the good, beautiful, and just fun things that I experienced in 2014?

Yes, 2014 is the year my life fell apart but it’s also the year I discovered just how powerful healing and re-building can be.

It’s the year I lost my best friend (and a few other friends too) but it’s also the year many other friendships deepened and good friends rallied around to support me and love me in ways I had never known.

It’s the year I experienced selfishness and betrayal that caught me completely by surprise but also generosity and acceptance that I was unprepared for.

It’s the year I lost my home but was welcomed into others’ homes with open arms.

It’s the year that I woke up morning after morning wishing it was all just a bad dream but also the year that evening after evening I went to bed amazed at the strength, grace, and resilience I was accessing.

It’s the year I was slandered and falsely defined but also the year I began re-discovering my own voice and becoming less fearful of and shaped by what others think of me.

It’s the year I hated being alone and having no personal commitments but also relished the many opportunities to drop everything for a trip somewhere else with great travel companions.

It’s the year I was moved to tears by some of the most hateful words ever spoken to me but I was also moved to tears by some of the most encouraging and uplifting words ever spoken to me.

It’s the year I yelled at God but also the year I have never felt His care and faithfulness so intimately.

It’s the year I was forced to stare human brokenness in the face long and hard but also forced to accept human kindness and goodness often and to desire wholeness more deeply.

It’s the year I mourned but also the year I was comforted.

I will always remember 2014 as the year where I LIVED. I have never felt pain so sharply nor seen beauty so clearly. I have never been more aware of myself and those around me. Every day and nearly every moment felt like a new lesson. My plans for the future were so disrupted that for probably the first time in my life, I just had to let it all unfold with no preconceptions. All I could do was take each new hour as it came with no expectations. Some hours were happy. Some hours were deeply devastating. But I felt the passage of time and the movement of life more profoundly than I ever have before.

I will always remember 2014 as the year of EMMANUEL. God breaking into the ugliest, most painful, most broken places and just being there and experiencing it all with me. And more than that, leading me. Just one, slow, small step at a time. Patiently waiting during the times I took a step or two backwards. Gently grasping my hand at the times I started sinking into the quicksand of depression or anxiety. Never making me feel guilty for my confusion or fear but letting me experience it and then helping me find my way out of it.

As I look ahead to 2015, I have no idea what it will hold. I hope for more peace and less turmoil. I hope for more healing and less pain. I hope for more happiness and less sadness.

And I hope all of that for you too, dear friend, whatever 2014 was like for you and wherever you are in your journey toward becoming who you are meant to be.

But even if 2015 brings more turmoil, pain, and sadness than we desire, I promise you that together we will look for the moments of peace, joy, healing, happiness, and beauty. And they will be there too.

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Favorite Things 2014

These are my favorite films/TV shows/podcasts that I discovered this year. I am fully aware that some of these would not even be qualified as “good”. This is NOT a “best of” list. It’s a favorites list.

(Note: These were just the favorites that I *discovered* this year. There are on-going shows that still claim a spot on my all-time favorite list.)

Films
1. Dear White People
2. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
3. Leviathan
4. Boyhood
5. The Internet’s Own Boy

TV
1. The Good Wife
2. The Honorable Woman
3. Scandal
(Re-reading this list, I guess I was really looking for shows with strong leading ladies.)

Podcasts
1. Serial
2. The Liturgists
3. Strangers
4. On Being
5. Reply All
(I had the hardest time keeping this list to just 5. I feel like some of the best storytelling is on podcasts right now.)

Advent Reflections

Waiting, longing, hoping, praying, crossing fingers, anticipating…

Waiting for*:
a spouse.
a baby.
to get well.
your baby to get well.
your mom to get well.
your grandpa to get well.
your marriage to get well.
your heart to feel whole.
a job.
a job that’s fulfilling.
a job that makes enough to feed your family.
your work and talent to get noticed and be appreciated.
a house.
a home.
a car that runs.
new friends.
a call/email/text/letter from an estranged loved one.
your parent to come home.
your son or daughter to come home.
that call you’ve been waiting for.
everything to come together.
grace.
wisdom.
direction in life.
justice to be done.
war to end.
(*This is just a brief list of things I have been asked by friends to pray for in 2014.)

We are all waiting, longing, hoping, praying, crossing fingers, anticipating so many things that can’t come wrapped in a package or dropped in a stocking or delivered by Amazon.

We are reminded: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

We are told to be more realistic. To accept the diagnosis, the angry last words, the reality of the job market or the low bank account balance.

But what if we accept reality and still want more? What if we acknowledge the world as it really is but also still wait, long, hope, pray, cross fingers, and anticipate?

“But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

I hope, pray, and cross my fingers that waiting will enlarge my soul and that longing will grow my heart. That just as a seed stuck into the dirt can one day become a great tree, hopes, desires, and longings placed in the deep dark places of my heart and soul can take root and grow into something much larger than the original desire.

I want to allow waiting, longing, hoping, praying, crossing fingers, and anticipating to change me, to mature me, to make me wiser, more gracious, loving, and far-seeing than I currently am. I want to allow the road of possibility to extend long and broad before me.

Waiting, longing, hoping, praying, crossing fingers, and anticipating is hard and painful and sometimes feels so futile and pointless. It’s often heart-breaking and disappointing.

But the alternative frightens me. To place limits on what can be. To erect locked gates to the road of possibility. To decide that the reality I see immediately before me is all that will ever be. That growth, healing, love, hope fulfilled, justice, and peace are impossibilities. That’s a reality to horrifying for me to imagine.

So Christmas morning will come and probably none of the things I have been waiting, longing, hoping, praying, crossing fingers, and anticipating will be under my tree. (I really, really wish they could be!) But I’m ok with that.

I will just keep waiting, longing, hoping, praying, crossing fingers, and anticipating that my heart and soul are enlarging. That growth, healing, love, hope fulfilled, justice, and peace are on the long, broad road stretched out before me.

And I will wait, long, hope, pray, cross fingers, and anticipate that for you too, dear friend. For as long as your road is also.