- went hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire
- took a biology course (albeit for non-majors)
- learned how to film + edit, and created two 5-min films
- shared about my faith with a professor
- auditioned for/joined an a capella group
- tried beignets at the Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans (among other things)
- painted two homes
- initiated more conversations, smiled at more strangers
- rode on the metro at NYC (also lost $10 after swiping multiple times)
- read Infinite Jest (well, most of it)
- lived with two different roommates
- visited Chinatown in Boston
- shared my writing with close friends, which I find harder than sharing with strangers
- biked in the rain until I was soaked to the bone, and wrote a poem about it
- visited a friend I hadn’t seen since high school
- went to a football game at our #1 rival college
- said goodbye to college graduates, hello to first-years, cried/laughed/prayed with new and old friends (firsts and lasts because I and they will never be who we were in that moment at that time, for better or for worse)
Beginning this year I’d yearned to live into the freedom I believed God had promised for me (Galatians 5:1, John 8:32, 36). Going into college I’d had to confront a multitude of insecurities and fears I hadn’t even realized had bound me. I internalized everything, felt paralyzed, and beat myself up over seemingly insignificant scars that ran dangerously deep.
Praying and pleading, I made small promises to do that which I didn’t feel ready to do. To put words and feelings into actions. To take small steps of faith. And even as I wince to admit it, these go entirely against my timid, unsure self.
2017 began with a trip to the White Mountains in NH, a trip I embarked on never having climbed an icy hill, let alone a mountain, a trip I took up with eight older, more experienced strangers. More than the foreboding email that described a 4500 ft elevation gain over 9 miles of hiking and “temperatures below -20 F and wind over 60 mph common at the summits,” I feared meeting new people (read: insecure). Unfortunate, yes, but true. Still, in the confines of a dusty room, close to one year ago, I signed up to go.
It was breathtaking.
Hard, too, as expected. I clobbered into multiple peers, slipped, sweat, and probably passed some gas… and I didn’t make it to the summit. But a year later, I’m still so thankful for the experience. It was a specific moment I chose to do rather than dream, and though I’d do a whole lot more dreaming for the rest of the year, I also felt encouraged to get more uncomfortable, more often.
And despite (perhaps because of) much discomfort, darkness, and dryness, 2017 has been an answer to prayer. I experienced more freedom and fullness of joy than ever before and fought to be more myself, more who God created me to be, in various contexts, in various spaces. I got to visit new cities, meet new people, taste new foods, cry new tears, gain new skills, and ask lots (lots!) of new questions. I am so thankful.
New Orleans, LA
taken by a friend
rainy day in MA
Even writing this now, I’m in awe of the ways in which God moves mountains and teaches me to climb them.
Needless to say (maybe), I still have many insecurities, many fears, and many ways in which to grow. Being home for the holidays is a reminder of that. I’m humbled by my own inability to love my own blood brothers and sisters, my irritability and impatience, my inclination to disobey. My flesh is wretched and I writhe in it. And it’s easier to self-condemn than it is to look to Jesus, to ask for forgiveness and help, even knowing that is what he readily and most lovingly gives. This is why I need him. Today as I sat and reflected, he reminded me again that whenever my heart condemns me, he is greater than my heart, and he knows everything (1 John 3:20). The truth really does set me free. Free from the cages I construct for myself, free from a performance/perfectionist mentality. Free from sin and the shame that follows it. Free from myself.
I remember certain quotes from Infinite Jest, and one comes to mind now: “life’s endless war against the self you cannot live without.”
This life is a war, but I know who has already won it. In 2018 I wish to lose myself and find myself in Him. It is He who has created me, who knows me better than I know myself, who has written out my life for me and loved me when no one else did, when I was alone in that dusty room, making promises I felt afraid to keep. When I, riddled with guilt and self-hatred, and hatred about my self-hatred, fell at Jesus’ feet, he knelt beside me and washed my feet, knowing full well I should be the one washing his, if even considered worthy to untie the straps of his sandals.
So aside from sharing new experiences and looking forward to a new year, I know one thing that will remain the same–the newness of God’s mercies for me every morning. With that in mind, I entrust 2018 to the lover of my soul, unready for the coming mountain highs and valley lows, but also again promising to do things I’m a little not ready to do. “I think that is how you grow.”