I think a lot about the different people I’ve been throughout the years. Especially starting my senior year of high school, it seemed like everything around me was changing so rapidly that I had to adjust just to keep up. I used to feel like my life was a snow-globe and every time I’d start to get a handle on things, somebody would shake it up again. That’s an interesting image though, God, the great snow-globe shaker.
In just a handful of years, my life completely derailed from the well-intentioned tracks I had been laying and I began this new adventure of just focusing on the next step before me. It was hard, and it still is some days, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt myself walking in the middle of God’s plan for me. I’m certain of what I’m doing in a way I never was before, and that gives me security on the days when I feel like screaming “WHAT AM I DOING” and running back to Alabama to start over.
Social media can be a pretty awesome tool for nostalgia, which is what actually inspired this post. What’s the opposite of nostalgia? Whatever it is, that’s how I feel about my teenage years. It wasn’t all bad, but I’m thankful every day to be past it. Not just because of the fussy teachers and the teen angst, but because I know how much I’ve gone through to grow into the person I am now. I know how long and painful much of that road has been, and I’m glad to have it behind me.
Sometimes people forget how hard those awkward years can be, myself included. That strange time when you’re not really a child but nowhere near an adult gets romanticized a lot by movies and books but for me, it was nothing like that. Even then, I felt like I was a slightly different person from one year to the next. My group of friends were different each year, until the time I graduated when I was more on my own than ever. It was a difficult time managing school along with figuring out who I was as a person. I knew I wasn’t who I wanted to be, but I wasn’t sure what exactly I was heading toward either. It was a confusing and tumultuous time of taking risks and falling on my face and making a lot of mistakes. I came out pretty bruised, but wiser for it.
The years following high school were more wild than I really gave them credit for. I moved to a new place, met new people, but still didn’t feel right. I met a boy and fell in love for the first time and then he joined the army and I learned what it truly means to miss someone. Eventually I found myself getting married and then he left again. I moved back to my favorite city and grew up quite a bit over the next year. I lived with my best friend, who became more like my sister. I fought my way around loneliness and learned how to do things on my own. I struggled to work full time for the first time and felt like a true adult.
Then my love came back and we moved away from everything and everyone I knew and started a strange new life in Texas. Life somehow got harder and we were pushed to our limits over the next eight months. Each day we felt like the world was testing us in whatever way possible. We were stressed to the max and felt totally alone in a place that seemed completely foreign. Our relationship became the most important thing and we learned how to depend on each other. I waged a war on sadness and came out on top. We battled hard for our marriage and won. I learned what true love was. I learned to never give up.
Now we’re in a place that feels more like home than any other home I’ve known and I’m growing another life in me. I’m going to be helping a new little spirit learn to navigate this crazy world and I don’t know that I’ll ever feel prepared for that. But I do know that I’m better than I was before. I’m wiser at this moment than I’ve ever been. I’m stronger now than I used to be.
I’ve spent too much time taking what I have these days for granted. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that almost everything in my life right now is something I used to pray hard for. After spending our entire first year of marriage apart, I finally get to live with the man I love. After all the nights I spent crying and praying before I went to bed, I get to sleep next to him every night. That is something I should be overwhelmed with thankfulness for every day. Because if I’m being really honest, at the risk of sounding morbid, any day could be our last.
After all the time I spent feeling friendless, like there wasn’t a single person who really cared for me, I’m now surrounded by a community of people who love me. After so many moments I felt like a failure, I’m now in a place where I’m given new opportunities to do something important each day. So much of my time is spent serving in our church and doing everything I can to bring others into the love and grace of God’s kingdom, and there’s no degree or career I would choose over that. I spent countless hours begging Him to show me my purpose and now I get to live it out every day. I trust Him and I know He’ll honor and take care of me for that.
I just want to appreciate life more. I want to be more thankful. I want to be able to look back at all the other versions of myself I had to go through to get here, and catch a glimpse of His plan. When I focus on the details and on the big picture, I can see how He was leading me to this moment all along and that makes everything it took to get here worth it.