This time of year always finds me thoughtful and introspective; remembering the past year and squeezing the final lessons to be learned before turning my attention toward the upcoming months. At the end of last year, I remember thinking that 2015 would be "The Year of Rest." I coined it as such mostly because I was coming out of one of the most difficult and challenging years of my life and wanted to embrace self-love, self-care, and continuing the path of healing on which I had embarked at the beginning of 2014. However, this year has been anything but restful, 'though that's not to imply that it was not good. Candidly, anything after 2014 would be considered good. And yet, even as I write that, I know that if I had not spent so many sleepless nights in anxiety, had not spent so many days eating too much or not enough depending on my levels of stress, or fought so hard to keep my head high despite the crushing hopelessness, I wouldn't have experienced the light shining so brightly through the darkness.
In many ways, 2014 was the crucible after the three previous years of aimless wandering. Everything leading up over the past four years - from losing friendships with people I've known since child-hood, surviving an abusive relationship, moving across multiple state lines multiple times, and being falsely accused and dragged through the court system - taught me the deeper meaning of forgiveness, patience, self-control, truth-seeking, and gradually re-learning the beauty of vulnerability.
My only response over this past year has been one of gratitude. Gratitude to the friends and family who never gave up on me and held my arms up for me when I was too tired to hold them up myself; for the amazing community here on the Cape who stood by my side; for the ever-faithful God who calls me beloved when I see nothing but fear and doubt.
Despite the ever-present busy-ness of the last 12 months, all I see when I look back is love, joy, beauty, and an all-encompassing peace that I am exactly where I need to be for such a time as this. I am who I am and equipped with everything I need for the tasks set before me.
So, what are my plans for 2016? I've been mulling this over in my mind for many weeks, and here are some of the answers upon which I've arrived:
- I have an important story to tell. I once had a professor write the following at the bottom of one of my papers: "Miss Bologna, I've held off saying this for quite some time. Today is the day. I have no doubt that one day I will be reading your books in bookstores across the country....God willing. Let Him take the shade off the lamp..."
The time for fear and sadness over some of the chapters in my life is passing away. No longer do I want to be controlled by the ghosts of the past, but rather bring them to light, the better to light the way for others.
- My calling has always been to serve others. It's taken me awhile to learn that I can't serve others if I'm not serving myself. Part of that service is to participate in the things that make me come alive and fill me with joy. Serving others in drudgery does no one any good. The day is dawning to rediscover my passion and use it for the good of mankind.
- Adventure is in my blood. The adventure of the light in my soul recognizing the light in anothers'; the adventure of discovering new places, be it across the road or across the world; the adventure of learning new things and mastering new skills; the adventure of letting go and letting God; the adventure of love.
- The Journey is the Destination. To quote myself from last year, "my resolution is to continue on this journey - the journey of learning how to take care of me, while still taking care of the people in my life that I love; breathing deep to remind myself of the sweetness of oxygen; taking moments, both small and large, to enjoy the pleasures of life, both simple and decadent....Most importantly, I want this year to be filled with love. I want to open my heart up, inch by inch, until its doors are wide open – allowing in the joy and the pain, and embracing them both."
I have set my intentions and lit my candle. As the slowly dying flame flickers and extinguishes on 2015, may the bonfires of the future ignite a la Lord of the Rings style from Gondor to Rohan, leaping from mountaintop to mountaintop, signaling now! now is the time to awaken! now is the time to answer the call and to ride!
The race goes on.