At this time last year I wrote a similar post. May is a significant month for me as it marks two anniversaries: graduating from college and starting my dream job. Though they both occurred on the same day (May 2) there was an entire year that lapsed between the two.
I’m a sentimental person at heart, and I intentionally take note of important dates in my life; it helps me keep track of what’s transpired in the year prior. So every year on May 2, just like I would on a holiday or my birthday, I take stock of what the previous year taught me, and how it has changed me and deepened my walk with Christ.
A couple weeks ago, I closed another year with this conclusion: my job saved my life. Or more accurately, God used this job, this place, the people here to reach in and save me. It was my stability, the very stability I needed, when life was chaotic.
That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. To look at my life and who I was on May 2, 2015, then 2016, then 2017, and finally 2018…the growth, the ups, the downs, the hills, the valleys, the brokenness, the redemption…none of it could have happened without God orchestrating the entire timeline.
On May 2, 2015, I sat in a cushioned chair at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, waiting for my row to be led to the stage. Walking across that stage, getting my diploma and shaking my school’s president’s hand was an odd feeling of stillness. I can’t even remember hearing my name announced. It felt as if my brain was on autopilot.
My educational career spanning 16 years had just concluded. I had been in a mode of formal learning for almost as long as I’d been breathing and suddenly that comfort zone was gone. I was sad to be leaving the environment I knew so well. And I knew the steps before me wouldn’t be easy to take. Finding a job, paying off student loans, harboring a desire and a passion to go to the mission field…all of it joyfully swelled in my heart and confused me at the same time. I was anxious to simply see where God would lead me, and how He would somehow reconcile all these passions He put in my heart.
On May 2, 2016, I walked through the doors of Turning Point, ready to begin my new journey. I had formally accepted a position as a copy editor for this ministry. I saw it as my dream job because here was this opportunity to combine my love for writing and copy editing with my love for and desire to share the Gospel. For the first time in a year, I felt this sector of my life get a solid footing, as if the previous 365 days had felt like floating adrift on a raft before finally stepping onto solid ground again. But all the while, other parts of my life were in chaos, roiling with turmoil on a minute-by-minute basis.
Even on my first day at this new job, this opportunity to start my career, gain a new community, find new footing, I knew the coming year would be difficult.
On May 2, 2017, I celebrated by going on a hike with friends. Then I stopped. I took stock. I looked back, and I could clearly see God’s handprint on every part of my life. My predominant feeling for the year had been that of being stuck, misunderstood, mistreated, unappreciated, unworthy of equal effort, yet I was still somehow growing. But I wouldn’t see the full bloom of that growth for quite a few more months. I had to hold on, hoping and praying God was holding me, keeping His promises as He said He would in Hebrews 10:23.
My 2017 anniversary was a pivotal moment for me. I wanted the next year to be about setting myself up for whatever the future held. Because you can pray and hope for opportunities or blessings all you want, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to handle them when they come. I wanted to be prepared. I wanted to handle everything life brought me with faith, confidence, steadfast trust. I didn’t want to let my Savior down anymore; I didn’t want to grieve Him. I wanted Him to look at me and have joy on His face.
So changes needed to be made. And He saw me through each change when the pain nearly consumed me.
May 2, 2018. It was a day that passed with little fanfare (I was swamped at work). But it was a moment in time that marked another year (obviously). One of those holy-crap-it’s-been-a-long-four-years-of-growth moments. So I’ve been looking behind me for the last few weeks, replaying memories in my head, letting long-ago-learned lessons come to the surface in my heart. The conclusion I’ve reached is: wow, I’m different.
When I was 20, I honestly thought I had stuff figured out. How could I not? I had an awesome and active family, I had a growing relationship with Jesus, I was at school which was my comfort zone (anywhere I can learn is comfortable for me), I had a few close friends, my future was totally figured out (lol), and I felt blessed to have that life. But God was stretching me. And now, I look back and almost cringe…no, I do cringe…at how naïve and young and idealistic I was. Deep on the inside I’m just as idealistic now as I’ve always been, but boy have I gained, and lost, and grown, and shriveled away. Boy, have I been confused and felt dumb, then felt redeemed and back on my feet again. Boy, have I felt so far away from Christ and alone, then felt His arms come around me right when I needed it.
But here’s the main takeaway for me from this past year. Redemption is painful at times but it’s a beautiful process. Relationships are difficult and sometimes you find yourself making too many sacrifices, and you have to make a tough decision for distance. Community is invaluable because that’s where Jesus will meet you when the silence of loneliness is too much to bear. Self-care can only come in handy when you know yourself well enough; knowing yourself can also be the difference between a wise decision and a not-so-wise decision.
The world has touched me in ways I never anticipated. It gave me experiences I now wouldn’t trade because it led to many amazing things. Going forward, all I want is for more and more people to join me here and experience redemption of their own. Because God is capable.
With each passing year He reminds anew that He is my steady ground and my solid foundation. When everything else is chaotic, He is not. And though I only have a feeling that big things are coming this year, I will continue to hold fast to Him and the confession of my hope without wavering, because I know He is faithful no matter what.