I want to preface this blog by saying that this was not what I wanted to write about, but when I started typing, the words just came out. This is very personal and a little raw at times, so be gentle.Oh, it’s also a little bit of a long blog.
So here were are again. Christmas has come and gone and the midnight stroke that signals in a new year has sounded, bringing us into 2016. Facebook and Instagram are covered with new year’s resolutions and goals and ‘new year, new me’ posts, all of which are supposedly trying to inspire and make us more determined, but which, if we’re all honest, will likely be forgotten come next week. It’s the same old thing, the same cycle we all participate in, year after year. We celebrate, or in some cases say a big Thank God that’s over, about the past year and make promises for a better year. Bring on 2016 and all that. I know, I’ve been there, done that and got the thirteen t-shirts, hence why I jumped off that bandwagon a few years ago. The only thing that changes is the number at the end of the date goes up by one and serves as a reminder that our time is ticking on; we are all getting older and we won’t be here on this earth forever, so we best make the most of our time. New Year’s Eve now serves one purpose for me; to remind me that I still have much to do and I best get my little butt moving! However if I look back, I can say that 2015 taught me some lessons.
2015 was a big year for me. Mum came through her cancer journey with the all clear (can I get a hallelujah somebody!), I got a new job that I absolutely love, my brother married the love of his life and I got an instant sister and nephew and niece, I added friends to my life, removed some friends from my life (some removed themselves), published a devotional, got a spot as a regular devotional writer on a website (more on that later), went to Cambodia and had my heart changed, and spent a week in Auckland with my high school bestie seeing in the new year. It was a big year with some great victories and some great memories were made. It was also one of the most challenging years of my life. It was a year that had some let downs, some heartbreak and heartache, a year that I battled some lingering anger and resentment and year that for a while, I felt completely and utterly lost. I also, probably for the first time in many, many years, felt very lonely. Let me elaborate.
I am extremely blessed by the people in my life. I have an amazing family in my life that get me, really get me, and know exactly what I need and when. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am loved by my family and friends because they show me in so many ways. It’s overwhelming at times and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But one thing that 2015 highlighted for me was that some of my dreams were yet to be realised. And the main ones – meeting the love of my life, getting married and having my own family – was constantly there in the forefront of my mind. There was no real event or person that bought it to the forefront, it just seemed to be there, this constant reminder that I’m still single and waiting for my knight in shining armour to turn up so that I can start that part of my life. I tell myself at times that he is likely in some remote, off the map country serving as a missionary because that’s the kind of person he is (stop judging me, I need to create scenarios to make the wait worth it, just love me anyway). Though more than likely he is stuck in a tree somewhere and doesn’t know how to get down. Whatever the reason, there were moments when it was hard to be single and that is a hard place to be in sometimes, especially when you are surrounded by people who are either in happy relationships or are happily single.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my life and don’t need a man to complete it as I find my identity and completion in Christ. But it would be nice, especially during the challenging times, or which there was a few, to have a partner there with you. It would have been nice to have someone there to bounce ideas off and to just hug. My family and friends all supported me and loved me when I needed it, and there was countless hugs, but it’s not the same. There were times when the wait had me questioning certain things, like my worth, or whether or not I am enough to love. The wait had me questioning whether or not it was ever going to actually happen. It had me questioning whether or not it was part of God’s plan for me, even though He had already shown me that it was. My loneliness had me questioning a lot of things but it also taught me a few things. It taught me that it’s okay to feel alone and it’s okay to feel like crap about it. There is nothing wrong with that and saying that out loud can be rather freeing. We live in an Instagram world, where everything has a nice filter over it and everyone’s life looks nice and shiny and full of happy times. And our lives can very much be like that. But they can also be hard. I’ve personally spoken to people who struggled a lot last year, who experienced heartbreak and trauma and disappointments and who lived a far from shiny 2015. And what I found was that people just wanted to be heard. It wasn’t about complaining or being negative, it’s about being able to voice what’s in your heart and not get judged or criticised for it.
So if anything, in 2016, I’m going to give myself permission to feel like garbage every once in a while. I’m also going to make a conscious effort to give others permission to speak up about when they feel like garbage. It was hard to talk about feeling lonely at times because most people will pretty quickly try to make you feel better, which is rather sweet and nice and all that, but sometimes, you just want someone to say, “yeah, I get it, it’s tough”, or say, “yeah, me too.” That’s all, nothing more. I know that God is faithful and I know that He will fulfil His promised to me, but sometimes I just want to be able to say that I feel lonely and feel like garbage because sometimes that’s all I need, to just say it out loud. And if that’s resonating with anyone reading this, if you find yourself going, ‘Yea, I just want to be able to say it,” then go for it. Say it out loud. Yell it if you must.
If I make one change this year, it will be to give myself permission to feel more and to be more open about it. I know that will make some people uncomfortable, but it will also give some people permission to be open about how they feel; it will let people be honest about their pain and their fears and their struggles. If we don’t open up and talk about our feelings, really talk, then why should we expect others to talk about theirs? And if we can’t all be real and honest, how can we expect to form long lasting relationships with others? Now I’m not saying that we all sit around in a circle and sing Kumbaya while we hold hands. Dear God, no. What I’m saying is that if we don’t lead by example and let people in, we can’t expect others to let us in, and I for one want people to be comfortable talking to me and to know that when they do, I will show them grace and acceptance, not judgement. Jesus got down in the dirt, He met people where they were and just loved them, and that’s what I strive to be like. I may not be going through the same things you are, but I know that life can suck and I know that it can be hard and I want people to know that it’s okay to admit that. Admitting that doesn’t make you weak or mean you lack faith, it actually makes you brave because it takes strength and courage to be honest. And that’s what I want 2016 to be about, honesty. Real, raw honesty. The type of honesty that breaks down barriers and heals hurts and helps people to belong. I want the honesty that Jesus commanded, that straight from the soul honesty that makes you vulnerable but is oh, so freeing! And if I want to see that, it needs to start with me.
And so here we are again, facing a new year and making a fresh start, again. And here is what I think 2016 is going to be about; I believe it will be a great year. I’m believing that prayers will be answered, adventures will be had and memories will be made. I’m believing that God will take me on some amazing journeys and I will draw closer to my Creator. I’m believing for life and healing and new friendships. I’m believing that there will be joy, not just for me, but for everyone. Who knows, it may even be the year that my knight in shining armour finally gets out of the tree and comes to find me. But above all else, I’m believing it’s the year that we all finally let the walls down and just be ourselves.