I’m writing a blog post for the first time since January of this year, and I don’t even know where to start. It’s a strange feeling: wanting to say everything and nothing at the same time, feeling anxious pressure to sum up all the moments I haven’t shared here. Should I even try? Is anyone even out there, still interested in what I have to say after all this time?
2020 kicked my butt. You could remove the COVID-19 pandemic completely and it was still one of the worst years of my life. I experienced failure after failure in virtually every area of my life, and I breathed a literal sigh of relief when we toasted at midnight on New Year’s Eve, running a tender finger over my scars and tending to a few healing wounds. 2020 hurt. But I knew the Lord was going to do something new. How, oh how, could I have known how many new things He would do?
Things as simple as experimenting with HelloFresh and learning to enjoy cooking with new ingredients I would never have tried otherwise.
The pure joy we felt at my brother’s wedding.
Putting bleach in my hair.
A new job.
More new babies than I can count.
Sunday night family dinners.
Dancing with abandon.
Getting paid to do what I love.
Watching two of my best friends fall in love.
Watching Daniel fall in love with a cat.
Heirloom family recipes.
Becoming a dance fitness instructor.
Teaching a Bible class.
Winning my workplace chili cookoff (which included two entries by executive chefs).
Experiencing the Pioneer Woman Mercantile, South Padre Island, Punta Cana, and IKEA for the first time.
I’m overwhelmed by the good in 2021.
Earlier in the fall, I had gotten into a really good workout routine, and before we started traveling this month, I was actually doing something active for at least 30 minutes every day. (If you don’t know much about me up to this point, just know that this is a HUGE accomplishment.) In the last two weeks, the only times I’ve worked out were when I had to, when I taught the dance fitness class I temporarily took over for a friend. I’ve gained some holiday and vacation weight, and honestly, I don’t really feel guilty about it. I’ve established some disciplines that I’ll get back into easily after our New Year’s hoorah. But I had a revelatory moment after teaching class on Monday night.
It had been a week since I did anything active, and even though I didn’t really want to go to the gym that day, I had to. Because I was the teacher. It was a great night of dance, and endorphins were clearly pumping, because as I pulled out of the wellness center parking lot, an uncontrollable smile came across my face. I felt a rush of joy at the person I had become: someone who allowed pain and loss to mold her into someone stronger, someone who was willing to twerk and bounce and slay fearlessly in front of a mirror without a second thought. “There you are,” I thought to myself. “I found you.”
Have I done everything I wanted to do this year? No way. Have I failed people and derailed plans and bailed on dreams? 1000%. I’m supposed to be a writer, guys, and this is the first blog post I’ve written in almost a year. But now is not the time to focus on all the things I didn’t do. Now is the time to celebrate that I’ve come back home. 2020 was the year of being torn down in order to be rebuilt, and 2021 was the year of rising from the ashes. I am unafraid of whatever the Lord has planned for 2022, whether it be flying or falling on my face again, because I trust Him. He is the one who makes me brave. He is the one walking me home. He has been just as faithful to me in the lowest valleys as He is on the highest mountaintops.
Excerpts from “A Liturgy for the Death of a Dream,” from Every Moment Holy
Oh Christ, in whom the final fulfillment of all hope is held secure,
I bring to you now the weathered fragments of my former dreams, the broken pieces of my expectations, the rent patches of hopes worn thin, the shards of some shattered image of life as I once thought it would be.
…You are the sovereign of my sorrow. You apprehend a wider sweep with wiser eyes than mine. My history bears the fingerprints of grace. You were always faithful, though I could not always trace quick evidence of your presence in my pain, yet did you remain at work, lurking in the wings, sifting all my splinterings for bright embers that might be breathed into more eternal dreams.
…Let me remain tender now, to how you would teach me. My disappointments reveal so much about my own agenda for my life, and the ways I quietly demand that it should play out: free of conflict, free of pain, free of want.
My dreams are all so small.
…Let me be tutored by this new disappointment. Let me listen to its holy whisper, that I might release at last these lesser dreams. That I might embrace the better dreams you dream for me, and for your people, and for your kingdom, and for your creation. …Teach me to hope, O Lord, always and only in you.