Dear 2012

Dear 2012,

Tonight, we’re leaving each other behind. Tomorrow you’ll be back in the archives of my mind, referred to as “last year.” It’ll sound weird at first–as always, I’ll have to get used to writing a different numeral.

You’ve been a good year, I have to admit. You had your down moments; life wasn’t always pleasant. But then, what year is ever perfect? You weren’t, but I certainly learned a lot during our time together.

I learned that even when we’ve come out of pain and we think its all fixed, life can still be shattered again. I learned that brokeness is part of life. I broke not once but many times with you.

I tasted sweet love, waited a lot, and wondered when it would all make sense. It never really did.

I tearfully put one dream aside and chased after another, hoping that I was right.

I pondered over university and finally decided to go. I graduated from high school and marched through the doors of university soon after.

I’ve found a whole new world in the last few months of you. I feel like I have completely changed. I have new goals, dreams, fears, and prayers. I don’t know how to leave the old ones behind or if I should or what any of this is at all. I’m not show how to grow up and I wish that maybe we could go back a few months to when we first met and I was just seventeen.

As a sentimental child, I often felt sad over the ends of years. I have to say that I’ve abandoned that practice since “growing up.” You were a good year, yes, but I’m happy to leave the pain and bad memories behind. I want to move on and keep on learning. But don’t worry—I’ll always remember you, 2012, as the beginning of the rest of my life.

Love,

Elizabeth

God, what is in store for 2013? Thank you for the road I’m leaving behind. Thank you for the joy. Thank you for teaching me through the struggles. Most of all, thank you for being here with me.

Say Hello Not Good-Bye

A couple of months ago, church was just hard. I had to say good-bye to dreams and learn how to welcome reality.

I walked to church that morning because we had car troubles. The sun shone brightly for the first time in weeks and it felt good to stretch my legs. My family had gone other ways since the car broke down so I was alone. I contemplated the morning ahead of me: helping out in Sunday school and running away from the question that was sure to come. The question that I would have to say no to. The question that hurt me so much. Are you going to Mexico?

~~~

Before I turned into the parking lot, I saw a little girl dash out of her door dressed in pajamas. She began to unravel the Christmas lights from a little tree in the yard. I don’t know why, but this caught my eye.

~~~

For some reason, I stuck around after church. I don’t know why I did it. I’d already made my decision not to go to Mexico so there was really no point.

“Are you coming to the meeting today?” my youth pastor asked as I finally went to the foyer to leave.

“No,” I replied. “I-I’m not going to Mexico.”

He looked disappointed. “Why not?”

“I just don’t really feel called to go. I don’t think God wants me to go this year. I’m not needed and I don’t need it, as much as I want to go.” I said. “And believe me — I want to go to Mexico more than anything. But I really just don’t think He wants me to go.”

“Well, that sounds like a good reason. We’ll miss you though,” he said.

“Thanks,” I said through tears. I watched the others enter the activity room where the meeting was to be held. Some of them had gone before, some of them were new. I envied my friends and asked God why. “Why can’t I go back? I’ve dreamed of it for so long? Why can’t you call me back? Please God! Why do I have to say good-bye again?”

But the Good defeated the bad and I heard His voice loudly and clearly…

“Don’t say good-bye. This is not the end. New things are coming. Good things. Say hello, not good-bye.”

I smiled. It was true. Yes, He was right. I put on my coat with a happy heart. Just because I wasn’t going to Mexico didn’t mean that God had forgotten about me. He was calling me somewhere else. Somewhere better for me. And who knows? Maybe I’ll go back to Mexico someday. It doesn’t matter though. Saying good-bye is irrelevant. Hello is the word to use for the future He has planned out.

~~~

As I walked back, I saw the girl who had been unfastening Christmas lights earlier. Now she was drawing a chalk house in the drive way. I was reminded of my younger days of chalk castles and neighbour friends and I felt the nostalgia and sadness come back. But only for a moment.

“Hello,” I said, smiling at the girl as I went.

“Hi,” she replied, looking up from her chalk.

I grinned. I’d said hello not good-bye. I can do this. I really can.

~~~

I wrote this post back in February, but over these last few months, these feelings have become even truer as I prepare to graduate and start a new life at university in the fall. While I am very excited to begin this new life, I am also apprehensive. I don’t want to say good-bye to everything I’ve known and loved.

But God is showing me once more that life is about saying hello, not good bye. Today, I was officially accepted into university after months of second guessing and debating. With enthusiasm, I said Hello and Thank you, God!

God has a wonderful future planned out for you, too! Don’t ever forget that He has your very best in mind. He loves you. So say Hello and not Good-bye.

Pondering The Beauty & Ashes

January, what a month you’ve been. As a child and even at the beginning of this month, I always looked forward to you with grimace. Back then you meant work after play and boredom after the fun of Christmas. To me, January has always been the dullest, most boring month of the year.
 
That is, until this January. God likes to surprise us, I guess and He did just that with my month. He gave me joy in a way I’d never experienced it before and it was wonderful. Amidst that beauty, I watched dear friends struggle and I wondered how I could be so happy when they were not. I faced decisions about my future that totally “changed” it and left me wondering where on earth I am going. I had a sad encounter with the rules of the game that hurt me so long ago. There was peace, joy, tears, laughter, love, anger, confusion, and splendor. There was beauty and there were ashes, all at once.
 

I know that I didn’t write much about the specifics of all these events. You’re probably in the dark about most of this, unless you know me personally. The circumstances of this month have been private for the most part. Some of them have been downright confusing. I can tell you that it’s been ugly and bonito at once, like a beautiful rose sprinkled with ash.

And that is where you find me today. I’ve been humbled and changed in just the first month of 2012. Who could have guessed? I certainly didn’t. When I wrote this post about newness, I had no idea that the newness would come so quickly or strangely. Now you find me pondering it all. Today, I’ll read through my books of “sweet everyday things” and diary to find the joy and look out the window at the rain and think on the hardship. I’m pondering the beauty and the ashes.

Because Life Isn’t A Storybook

The path of life is a strange one. It really is. For the first ten years or so, it was mundane, regular, and happy. Nothing new or strange ever really happened. Then there was a shift. It was a slight one at first, though it rocked my little world. After that, it was just one shift after another until you find me at this place — shifted, a bit older, not much wiser and utterly confused.

People say that the books I love like “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights” are overly dramatic and unreal. I used to agree since I’d never been a governess who was almost tricked into marrying a married man or a girl who seemed to go crazy when her childhood friend left. But now I strongly disagree with those people. Life is strange. It is odd, unexpected, and downright crazy. Life is not like a sweet little child’s story-book. No, it’s more like one of those old gothic romance novels.

But don’t call me an expert on life because of that. No, I’m far from knowing it all or even much. The more twists and the more turns in life, the more I learn. Yet, the more I am changed and the more I grow and become myself, the less I seem to know about it all. The old promises, strong-held ideals, and whimsical dreams are thrown out the door and I wonder who I am and what I am doing and what life really is about. 

When I was little, I wanted to breed horses and teach riding. Now, I haven’t even touched a horse in almost five years. About six months ago, I held ideals and made promises about how to conduct myself properly. Today, my opinion has changed and I am going against some of those old “morals.”I thought that I would go to university in September, but now I’m considering waiting until January or doing something totally different. I’ve yearned to go back to Mexico since my first trip, but as another one approaches I’m leaning towards the possibility of not going. I expected this month to be dull as the first month of the year usually is for me. Instead, it’s rained with joy and sorrow, excitement and confusion.

Life is unexpected. You can’t plan for anything. You can hope, but even those hopes will eventually change. Life changes. It is odd, surprising, and just, plain crazy. And it sure isn’t a nice, little storybook.

One thing that I cannot forget is God. My faith has been tested and the answers are true. I know that although I change quicker than the seasons in the year, He never does. I believe in Him. I trust His judgement. Well, I guess I am learning to trust it. I am coming to understand that He has crazy plans for my life. I am realizing that they are plans I cannot see or know right now or ever, yet they are good, wonderful, and right plans.

Yes, life is confusing and crazy but God is good.

Changing But Not

The other night, my friend, Holly, and I were talking about how we missed each other since our play ended. We chatted about change and how it is imminent. We marveled at our coming graduation this June. I feel so young right now, she said. How can I be graduating? I wondered the same thing, too. I am changing.

I used to be weak and sad. In fact, less than a year ago I would have told you that I wasn’t very happy. Now, I’m joyful and so much stronger. I love to live, most of the time. I have many wonderful friends who make me feel so loved, although I used to feel lonely. I feel like a changed soul.

At the family get-togethers, I was once the child who eagerly unwrapped colourful presents and darted around the house like crazy. This year, I realized how different I am now as I watched my five-year-old cousin and her little friend take my place. Meanwhile, I helped make the dinner and ate in the living room. It was like watching the shadows of myself from years ago. And I thought, Oh, how I have changed.

This week, I will apply for university. It’s crazy. Just looking at the application I wondered how I could be doing this. How am I this old? Because it seems like just yesterday that I was a five-year-old like my cousin, dressing Barbies, refusing to eat turnips, and wanting to grow up so badly. Life changes so quickly. I just cannot comprehend it.

Some things change for the worse though. I used to read my bible everyday. Over the holidays, that changed, too. There was just so much to do and so many people to see. Feelings rushed through me and things just happened. It was strange. I didn’t know how to tell God, even though He already knew. I wanted Him to approve but I was scared. And so I stopped. I changed in the worst way.

Last night, I promised Him we’d meet once more. Today, I sang my favourite Amanda Falk songs that remind me of His glory. I read some verses in Isaiah and I told Him my thoughts and why I’d been so absent. And I realized, some things do change like your age and friendships and feelings, but God remains the same, now and always and forevermore.

So now, I’m changing…but not.

New

At about 1:00 this morning, I used the year 2012 in a date for the first time. It was funny doing it. For some reason, I remembered back in the January of 2010 when it felt strange not to have the two zeros in the year. I messed it up so many times. This time though, it was just the last digit that was different. I didn’t have to scratch anything out. The new came easily to me on this morning.

I was writing a letter to myself to open next year. It was my friend’s idea and I think it will be a tradition for me, granted that I remember, over the years to come. I recalled my last new year and how happy I was for a change. I remember craving the new like a big piece of chocolate cake. 2011 looked so rich, filling, and sweet to me then.

Writing that letter made me realize how enjoyable this year has been for me. Yes, I had some ups and downs, but it was mostly a year of discovery. I found new joy, peace, and happiness. There was beauty and love and richness. It was a wonderful year.

But now that is all behind me. The new has come once more. This time, I don’t really know what I feel. I am not particularly eager to leave 2011, but neither am I entirely sentimental about it. Newness is good. It is mysterious, promising, and unmarred as of yet.

In my letter, I asked questions of myself. It was strange to ask them now. I wonder what my answers will be next year this time, when this new is old and another new is coming. What will the new year bring? What kinds of new does the Lord have planned?

While I wish I could know right now, at the same time I am happy with the mystery. I have a whole year before me, if the Lord allows it, filled with new experiences, feelings, and friendships. I cannot wait to discover this new.

God, thank you for newness. Thank you for making me new on the cross. Thank you for this year that has now passed and for the new and wonderful joys from it. And thank you for the promise of the new year. Please lead me through the sorrows and pleasures of 2012 and become my even better best friend.

Adieu Twenty-Eleven

2011 is coming to an end in just a matter of hours. It seems strange to me that this year is already over when the memories from this time last year are ever-present in my mind. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that my grandma’s death was fresh and new, a friend had just hurt me, I started this blog, and I was looking forward to 2011. Time has really, really flown.

At the same time though, it is unreal that all of these things happened only a year ago. God has blessed me with an amazing memory and so I can watch a lot of these experiences in my mind like an old video. But looking back now, I realize how very long ago that was. Things have changed. I have changed. Although I can remember what happened like it was yesterday, I don’t feel the feelings like I used to at all. Even the pain is gone. It’s like it was a dream and I am awake now.

The road behind me is fun to look back on though. After all, it is the path that led me to who I am today. Every sorrow and every joy alike has shaped the person who is writing these words now.

2011, you were a good year. You started with so much promise. I was sad back then. Really sad. But on New Year’s Eve I realized that you were coming and that you were new and not at all connected to the griefs of 2010.

Back in January 2011, I made resolutions that I half-kept (whoops!). One was to eat healthier. Another was to finish my book. Maturity was on the list as well. I don’t even care about the ones I slipped up on though for God gave me everything that I truly needed for 2011.

I gained friends and grew in my old relationships, too. Where I used to feel lonely, I now enjoy love, comradory, and joy.

I became beautiful this year. Well, actually I just realized what it means to be truly beautiful and learned to accept it.

I got to act way more times than I could have imagined. I was blessed with some very nice roles and wonderful coaches and directors who taught me tons about acting. I grew as a singer, too. Basically I came out as a confident performer.

I got back on track with school after a rough start and ended up doing very well. I received scholarships and opportunities. I decided on university for next year and began the process of post-secondary education.

And I learned a lot through it all. I found that God is good and merciful and cares for His children. I learned how to trust Him more and realized that He will always see me through. I was freed from lies I believed. It was a year of healing, of happiness, and love. I discovered, delighted, and learned about friendship and love. God became my even better best friend.

Today, I say adieu to 2011 and all of what it held and brought to me. It’s been a good year and I enjoyed looking back on it. I am thankful to God for the amazing mercy that He has shown. I am glad that I have changed and am happy to change once more. God, thank you so much for 2011. Please be my guide even more in 2012.

How was your year? What did you learn, do, and become in 2011?