I can sum up 2015 in one word: change. I started the year at my grandparents’ house in Michigan rather than at home with my parents and siblings. I was unbelievably homesick. So on New Year’s Eve, I went to bed around 9:30. My phone woke me up at midnight, and I groggily checked my messages. There was a text from the guy I had been texting all through Christmas break. We texted until a little after 1 AM. Then I went back to sleep. By March, that guy was my boyfriend.
In April, my parents told me about their intention to become foster parents. I can’t say I had a good attitude about that news. In fact, I begged them not to do it.
When school ended in May, I went to stay with family friends in SC for the summer. The object: find a job. I did. I started working at Kohl’s (and loved it, despite how badly my feet hurt) at the beginning of June.
A few days later, my parents were asked to foster a baby girl. I begged them not to do it. But I gradually got used to the idea. At the end of June, I held her for the first time–instant love. I try not to think about the fact that I’m old enough to be her mother. I’m still quite bewildered by the fact that adulthood has hit.
August saw more uncertainty. Should I go back to school or not? I was going to lose more in scholarships if I sat out than I would be taking out in loans in order to stay. So I stayed.
I worked three jobs for a while, then dropped one, because I was about to drop dead.
Fifteen credits is a light load, yeah? Lightest load I’ve ever carried. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezie. I’ve never been more wrong. Taking four major classes in one semester is a mistake which should be avoided at all costs. You’re welcome.
Add choir, because I was so determined to keep it. Add voice lessons, because I was determined to keep going. Add a major team project for the University Marketing Association. Add a society office. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced more burn-out.
Last month, we found out that my grandma’s most recent round of chemo hadn’t done much good. She decided not to continue treatment, and though it was difficult, my family supported her decision. I’m obviously sad. I love my grandma, and the thought of losing her is not a thought I want to dwell on. But I also know that she looks forward to being reunited with her Savior and being free from the pains of sickness here on earth.
God used that news to change something in me. If I’m really honest, this has been a spiritually dry year for me. I’ve resisted change, and in so doing, I’ve resisted God for bringing the changes into my life. And looking ahead to the beginning of 2016, all I saw were more changes. I feel almost as if my soul stiffened, bracing itself against what was to come. I sat through a semester of chapels and church services, barely hearing the messages. I knew I was miserable, and I knew why. But I didn’t feel like making the effort to change. I was content to wallow.
Maybe it sounds cold and unfeeling to say that the news of my grandma’s health was the first thing that I really accepted this year. But really, I’m powerless against illness and death. I can talk myself into and out of things. I can (attempt to) talk my family members into and out of things. But when it comes to the results of cancer, I can’t do anything. I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but I will have absolutely zero influence over the outcome. There was no sense in fighting. There was nothing to fight for. There was nothing to do except send a prayer of “Thy will be done” toward heaven. So I did, and I could almost tangibly feel the weight of that burden go upward with the prayer.
It was time for society elections just a little bit before Christmas break. I took my name off the ballot for the chorister position. I’ve been chorister for a long time. It’s time for someone else to take over, especially since I’m graduating this spring. But someone had nominated me for chaplain. I don’t know who did it. I’ve been nominated for chaplain several times, and I’ve always wondered why. I never took my name off that ballot, though. I’ve always felt that I shouldn’t refuse the position, but I never thought I would be voted into that office.
I was voted in, and it almost didn’t register. I’m going to be society chaplain. And there is no one less qualified than me. I am a horrible Christian. I mean, really. Just terrible. And to be voted into the position after the most spiritually dry semester I’ve ever had! Why? How? Oh wow. I’m supposed to be like…a good spiritual example…and I’m really just a horrible one.
Just before exams started, all the presidents, vice presidents, and chaplains of all the societies on campus were required to attend a meeting. I hate meetings. Hate them with a burning and passionate hatred. Most meetings can be covered in an email. If discussion is needed, that’s why there’s a reply button. And reply all. And Facebook messaging. And text. And group texts. I’m a communication major. The inefficiency of meetings bothers me. But I digress…
We went to the meeting. I sat with my president and VP. Later on, we discussed some things with the officers from our brother society. It wasn’t a bad time. And then, we three girls started walking back toward our dorms.
My society president is a sophomore. Some people would be nervous about having an underclassman as president. Some might even resent it. I am not nervous, and I do not resent it. In fact, I voted for her. She is a sweet, godly girl with a fantastic leadership and work ethic. She displays wisdom beyond her years, and she also has a fantastic sense of humor. I am incredibly excited to serve with her, our VP, and all the rest of our officers. But she shocked me.
“I’m really glad you got elected as chaplain. I was really hoping you would, and when I got president, I was like, c’mon, God, this is her last chance, and this would be perfect!”
“Wow. That’s quite a compliment! I’m not sure I deserve that, but I do appreciate it.”
“Girl, even when you were leading songs, you always had something to say. You didn’t just get up in front of us and say, ‘Ok, we’re singing this.’ You wanted to make a spiritual application, make sure that we thought about what we were singing. You’re love for God shone right through.”
I don’t remember what I said to that. She was so mistaken. How could my love for God come shining through when the thought of loving God hadn’t even crossed my mind in months? When I hadn’t heard–really heard–a sermon in months? When my devotional habits had been sporadic and unfeeling for months?
All I could think was, “God, I need You to change me. Yes, that’s right. Change. I need You to change me, because I don’t want to mess this up. I DO want to point the girls in my society to You, and… I can’t do that in the condition I’m in right now. I don’t want to fail these girls–my sisters by heart and through Christ–and more than that, I don’t want to fail You anymore.”
It amazes me how God places just the right people and circumstances in my life at just the right time! What a jolt of reality!
I didn’t used to make resolutions at the New Year. What’s the point in making promises that you don’t intend to keep, am I right? But there’s some new resolve in this year.
I want to cut down on the unhealthy eating habits. As much as I love Doritos… and Chick Fil A… and Coke… it’s gotta get back under control.
I need to work out…because of all the Doritos, Chick Fil A, and Coke.
I need to be less resistant to change.
Most importantly, I need to walk closer to God.
I’m going to fail. I know myself. I know I will eat and drink the bad things. I know I will find reasons to stay off the track and out of the fitness center. With the coming internship, graduation, plans for grad school, and whatever else is coming my way, I know I will have a hard time adjusting with a good attitude. I’m never going to be the person who looks at the coming tidal wave of life changes and screams, “BRING IT!”
There are going to be mornings when I will hit snooze on the alarm and choose to sleep longer rather than spend time in the Word.
But it’s not about the failures.
A just man falls seven times and rises up again.
I hate cliches, but this one is right: it’s not about the failures; it’s about what you do with them.
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.
Happy New Year!