February marks four years.
Four years since life as I knew it radically changed. Four years since I said my final, "See you later," to the two most influential people in my life. Four years since Mom and Dad went Home....
So very much has happened in these almost-four years that my head spins at the thought of trying to capture even the skeleton of it. But I'll try. Because I know I need to face it head-on to bring the next phase of healing, I'll try.
That first year after Mom and Dad died was the most difficult I have known. The shock, then raw pain. The wondering if I would ever be okay again. Life was hard, but God was working. I'll never forget waking up one day and realizing I was going to be okay...that life is still beautiful. I'll never forget the release of letting my imperfect self accept the love of Jesus while choosing to love Him back. That first year was difficult, no doubt, but growth comes from dirt, after all.
The second year was a bit better. College was way more fun! New friendships came more naturally, and God provided me with some of my best friends to date. Yet there was an emptiness--a longing to belong that was heightened by great insecurity. And in that season of feeling so unsettled, the Lord patiently taught me, and gently reminded me, that He made me the way I am with purpose. Not just on purpose, but with purpose. He graciously allowed me to see the beauty within myself...He taught me about me so that I can focus on others. In that time, my love for people and teaching and adventure was quietly rekindled.
Year three. Year three was crazy! A whirlwind of love, and laughter, and tears, and vulnerability, and conviction, and hope as He sent me packing to Bolivia and Montana. Year three, God allowed me to put into action the work He had been doing in my heart. And though I still mostly felt a mess, He showed me that my heart had at least received enough healing to once again hurt for other people. Year three, my heart was tattooed with images that do not stop at brokenness. No, the images so clearly imprinted in the core of my being are images of hope and healing that only Jesus can give...and that I have the opportunity of sharing. Year three, I was convinced that the greatest honor and joy I could ever know is knowing and loving God and, as a result of that, loving the lost and broken, encouraging my brothers and sisters.
As the winds of year three subsided, I realized that God is faithful...and I have trust issues. Through year four, I've been learning to trust again. My head thought I was, and my mouth proclaimed it, but...the fear that
gripped my heart told another story. The truth of the matter was that I
didn't want to trust God with my future because so far, nothing has
gone as planned, and the detours have been rough, and who knows when or how God
will decide to fulfill my heart's desires for the remainder of my life. Yet the faithfulness of God has become one of my favorite attributes about Him. How? I'm not really sure. I guess because He gives me what I need when what I want is stupid...but He never tells me I'm stupid for wanting what I do. Instead, He shows me what's better, opening doors I never would have chosen, providing opportunities I never could have dreamed. And He gives me peace.
I have no idea what year five will hold, but this I do know: our God is real and alive and powerful and loving, and because of that--because He is God--He is deserving of trust. This is what I am learning. This is what I am clinging to. While there is still back-and-forth with how well I feel I'm doing, I have confidence in my God. There is hope through His faithfulness, joy in His works, and peace in His arms. And I pray that my life is seen, not as a picture of perfection or some "goal" to achieve, but as a testimony of what happens when man's deep brokenness collides with God's greater grace.