My “relationship” with 2018 was nothing less than complicated. These emotions I experienced can be explained by the lyrics written by Ariana Grande: “One taught me love, one taught me patience, and one taught me pain.” I have a lot of different feelings from this year. It was definitely the hardest year yet, but like Ari who is thankful for her ex, I am thankful for the lessons and the growth I have experienced from this year.
Love. Matthew 19:19 “love your neighbor as yourself.” At the beginning of the year, I did not do this well. I couldn’t love others well because I didn’t love myself. It started out very subtle. I didn’t even notice. I started letting insecurities get to me, ones that I didn’t even know I had. All of the sudden, appearance mattered to me not because I enjoyed fashion and fixing my hair, but because I was trying to distract myself from the mess going on inside me by fixing up what I could physically see. As the insecurities kept piling up and I kept building the wall to prevent them from surfacing, my friendships and my romantic relationship started to suffer. The problem was I was not coping with and accepting my current reality: I have an autoimmune disease. Some of my favorite things I enjoyed doing I wasn’t able to do anymore. I was losing my “identity.” I tried to distract myself with other things in the world, but nothing seemed to help. The anxiety attacks became more frequent and the depression became darker. By the time July rolled around, I admittedly hated myself. I would look at myself in disgust. There was nothing about me that made me comfortable. I told myself I was okay because I had a boyfriend who loved me and that was better than what I had to offer for myself, but we broke up a month later. This forced me to have to tell others that I wasn’t okay, and little by little, I learned how to be a friend to myself again, I learned how to like being alone and I started to remember the good things about myself. Now, I love being alone, I admire the way I think, I enjoy putting on make up and fixing my hair not because I think I need it, but it allows me to express myself, but I am also comfortable with no makeup and a messy bun, too because I am comfortable with what’s inside.
Patience. Romans 8:25 “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Saying my patience was tested this year is an understatement. I had been searching for a diagnosis for my autoimmune disease for almost three years at this point. Summer of 2018, I went to Rochester, Minnesota to be seen by a doctor at the Mayo Clinic. I was there for two weeks and still left without an answer. It was just two months later that I was going through a break up, dropped out of school, and moved back in with my dad. It was a few weeks after this when I realized how desperately I needed God. I had completely pushed him aside out of anger in my circumstances, but all along he wanted me to find my identity in him, not in my physical abilities, my looks, or my relationships. It was during this time when I was reminded of the covenant God made with Abraham that he would make him the father of many nations, but it took God 25 years to fulfill his promise, and Abraham just waited patiently. It was a time when I told myself I just need to trust that God has a plan for me. There will come a time when this will all make sense. I just need to be patient because there is a greater purpose I’m not seeing yet.
Pain.1 Peter 4:1″So then since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.” There was also a lot of this in 2018. I have already been over most of it: Mayo Clinic, the break up, the anxiety and depression, and obviously the disease itself was so painful that it is what made everything else in my life spiral. The thing about pain is it’s only temporary, and more often than not, there is a greater lesson to be learned from our pain that ends up making us thankful we went through it in the first place. I think the pain in my life is actually going to help shape the purpose God has for my life. I haven’t fully figured out what that plan is yet, but I am excited to see how he will be able to use me.
Until then, here is to 2019. A year of positive growth, learning more about God and his plans, being my authentic self and expressing that to others. No more hiding the real me to fit in with the crowd and the norms. What is it about you that isn’t expressing who you truly are? What’s holding you back from being authentic? I encourage you to think about this and find a way to break through, it might be the most freeing thing you do for yourself this year. Take the risk, it may be scary, but it’ll be so rewarding in the end. Join me in this journey of living life unreserved.