Monday, December 31, 2012

thank you, 2012.

{photo by Alexander Shahmiri}

I am a girl who loves new beginnings and fresh starts, so I've been thinking about 2013 since Thanksgiving, planning and plotting our steps for the new year and my goals for another season. Still, it doesn't seem right to ring in the new year without properly saying goodbye to the old one. 

This time last year, my grandmother was in the hospital and ultimately transferred to hospice care. My family spent our final days of 2011 mourning and grieving and holding each other close. In January, Mama let go of this life and greeted the next, whatever that means and wherever that is. Not many days exist in which I don't think of her; I'll be standing behind the register, and a woman will walk in arm and arm with her elderly mother, and I'll be moved to tears, thinking about my mother and her sisters, about my grandmother and the name I share. 2012 started so differently from any other of my years previous, and yet the grief and the heartbreak led to change and forgiveness and letting go and moving on. My grandmother's death reminded me of my purpose and turned my attention back to things and people I had forgotten. I drew close to family, and I let go of myself, of hurts and frustrations that had held me stagnant for too long. 

As winter gave way to spring, we roadtripped to Atlanta, and I ran a 5K. We loved Jazz Fest like we've come to do every year, and we visited Disney World with friends. 

We had so much fun in those springtime months, but I can't document March, April, and May without acknowledging they were hard months, too. I didn't write about it much, but in April, I struggled through a severe bout of adult acne. I hate those words -- hate even giving them recognition in a year that gave me so much more -- but I want to look back and remember that though those months felt long and painful, I survived. I cried myself to sleep more than once and refused to have my picture taken. I hated looking in the mirror, then felt plagued by guilt over my silly pride and vanity. And you know, I didn't learn a lot about inner beauty. Those words didn't comfort me then, and they don't really now. But I did learn that not everything is a gift. And I know famous theologians and creative Christian writers might beg to differ, but what gave me so much comfort during those months was knowing: God didn't give me that acne. Not out of punishment, not out of love, not out of some divine plan to beautify me on the inside. And after doctor visits and medication and more concealer than I hope to ever wear again, it slowly began to go away, and I -- my body and soul -- began to heal. I want to write about it now, because I don't want to forget how hurtful those weeks were and how absolutely little and human I felt. I hope it never, ever happens again, but in case it does -- in case one day I again feel small and insignificant and yes, ugly -- I want to remember three things: 

I survived. 

My husband told me I was beautiful every day. 

I am so much more than my face. 

This summer, after a springtime of busyness and stress, I took a break from saying yes. Jordan took a trip to Venezuela, and we rented a house. God answered the cry of my heart and gave me a new job which has stretched and pulled me in ways I never quite anticipated. He looked down on me with favor and gave me something I didn't even know I wanted, didn't even know I could have. Jordan and I traveled to San Francisco and relished our time together. We created purposeful Sundays and established Monday night yard drinks. I spent time with girlfriends, and we made new friends we think will last for a lifetime. 

I look back on this year, and it held so very much: Bible Study Fellowship. Chicago and Seaside. Nashville and Atlanta. Disney and Jazz Fest. Weddings and funerals. "Just say no" June and an August filled with life-changing yeses. I learned to take food to those who need it and to weep and rejoice with those who are weeping and rejoicing. I remembered money can't buy happiness, which is good since we have way less than we used to. I became even more grateful for my husband, for my friends, and for my family. I opened our home and closed chapters to our life. 

2012 was a roller coaster ride, but I wouldn't trade it. I honestly believe this year -- one filled with the awakening of my mind and soul, just like I wanted it to be -- made me so much stronger. 

As Jordan was evaluating his 2012 goals and resolutions, he lamented that he hadn't done as well as he'd expected. He'd left more goals unmet than accomplished, and you know what I think? You know what I said? 

Each year brings us more than we could ever anticipate. It's filled to the brim with nothing like what we expected. It's miraculous to come out on the other side with any of our original goals accomplished at all. We're made to bend and move, to roll with the punches and adapt to the curve balls. Our goals aren't always as flexible, and that's okay. 

It's December 31, and I can safely look back and say, this was a year like no other. I don't want to relive it, but I don't want to forget it either. I want to remember the good and the bad, and I want those memories to guide me in 2013. 

Thanks, 2012. I mean it with all of my heart. 


Elizabeth said...

I found your blog in 2012 and have enjoyed reading about the ups and downs of your year. May your 2013 be a year of love, laughter and learning!

Sabrina said...

Beautifully written! Happy New Year to you and Jordan:)

Leslie Lee said...

Hooray for complicated, messy, life-giving, unforgetable 2012! Here's to 2013, friend. Thankful for your words and heart!

Sierra said...

This is beautiful. Thank you for writing this.
Oh, Just Living the Dream