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.