2018 has been quite the year.
365 days of ups and downs, joy and pain.
If I were to choose one word to sum up 2018 it would be gratitude.
It’s not that I’m necessarily grateful for everything that took place. Goodness no, I would be lying. There were moments where 2018 stunk and I wished I could curl up and cry away the pain. There were moments I wondered where God’s goodness was. There were times I felt alone. Seasons where I couldn’t understand His providential plan for my life.
No, 2018 was not a perfect year. Rather, this past year I’ve begun to better learn the art of gratitude amidst the imperfections. Amidst the pain. Amidst the loneliness. Amidst the times I felt like giving up.
Where I used to complain, a little ray of hope– a radiant spark of thanksgiving.
2018 was a year of loss. It was a year of hard work. The death of my childhood dog hit me harder than I would’ve ever expected. I felt like giving up on my second semester of online studying. Everything seemed too big, too hard to comprehend. And summer only brought more confusion, loneliness, even depression.
This year has been a year of learning. That maybe who I am does not always perfectly mold to a personality test (sorry Myers Briggs!). My faith has been tested. My beliefs shaken. Who I thought I was crumbled into who God is creating me to be.
God has worked on my heart in a lot of ways– often in the mundane grind, the boring and trivial. In ways only I truly could see and experience in His presence. In the still morning, in the wee hours of night. Ways that are plain boring to retell but shook my world and shattered and rebuilt me from the inside out.
I find it funny the God works– people now call me “the most encouraging person” and they praise my optimism. The thing is, only six months ago I complained and struggled seeing the good in anything or anyone. I doubt they would’ve said the same thing about me when 2018 first began. I doubt they would’ve been drawn to the joy they now say is so apparent.
The second six months of the year were different. My faith again was challenged. But I believe the first half of the year God was preparing me for this new lifestyle. I began studying on the campus of Moody Bible Institute. He was preparing me for this new adventure of living on my own in the middle of a big city.
What once was doubt was now replaced by confidence in who God created me to be, faith in who God says He is.
To be honest, the resolutions and goals I set on January 1st of 2018 kind of got destroyed (aside from exercising more!). And I think that’s okay. Because ultimately, in the wake of all God has done in 2018, my own goals didn’t really matter. He worked on my heart in ways I could’ve never foreseen. Yes, it was painful at times. But looking back, I am honestly grateful for all He did. The lessons He taught, the ways in which He grew me and stretched me and made me more like Him.
Sometimes I still wonder why, but ultimately I know it was for His glory.
Just like the apostle Paul, I can slowly begin to say that God has shown me how to be content.
This year has been a year of learning, discovering, growing, unraveling the art of gratitude. It has been a year of the death of old things and the birth of new things. It has been a year of unforeseen, beautiful friendships emerging. It has been a year of learning to hurt for others more than myself– learning to see past my own pain to reach those who are also breaking. This year has been a year of navigating relationships. A year of growing in Christ, of better understanding who this God I am serving truly is.
To be honest, 2018 was both one of my favorite and least favorite years’ yet. Yes, there were growing pains, but there were also unfathomable joys (I am still so amazed that God has placed me at MBI studying Communications!). I think, though, that one of my favorite parts of 2018 was learning to see how good God always is no matter the suffering, no matter the hard blows of life.
Only God knows the future, but I can honestly say that I am looking forward to 2019 and all its new adventures. Knowing all too well this year may be challenging, I am also excited to see where God takes me and how He grows my faith in the year (and years) to come.