I’ll be honest, I’m not going to miss you. You turned out to be one of the hardest years of my life. You were ruthless, pushing me past my limits and making me cry more than I’d like to admit.
We first met in the driveway of some guy’s house in Costa Rica. I was standing around with my best friend, a handful of strangers, and a bottle of tequila when you approached us. I knew we were destined to meet, but this was unexpected and anticlimactic. I was supposed to be dancing!
The rest of our meet cute didn’t go as planned, so I should have known then we weren’t off to a good start.
Only you and God know everything we’ve been through. Other people have seen glimpses, or have heard about our complicated relationship in part, but no one will ever know the full picture.
The first 8 months of our relationship can be described in this text message I sent to my mentor in the spring:
Betsy… I’m dying. This job is drowning me (this job and the fact I’m working as a Squad Mentor at the same time.) I don’t know that I’ve gotten to this point in my life before, but I really just want to give up and stop caring, because no matter how hard I try I still feel like I’m drowning, dying, shriveling up, want to cry all the time. I seriously am at the end of myself. I keep trying to go to Jesus, but he’s not managing the Passport budget for me. I’m failing at so many things, so why keep trying? Why not just embrace the failure all together? This is my thought process these days and that scares me. I’m not a quitter. But *not* quitting feels like it’s going to kill me…
I didn’t quit. And I didn’t die, though at times I felt like death. If there’s one thing you taught me about myself, 2015, it’s that I’m both weaker and stronger than I thought.
When I look back on our relationship, I remember the tears. You treated me like a sponge you enjoyed wringing out, using force and circumstance to squeeze all my insides out. You couldn’t get enough of that salty water. You didn’t care about my pride or dignity, you clasped and twisted and squeezed no matter the time or day or place.
I remember the first time I walked out of the office and into the woods to cry. It was in late January, after a meeting, and I tried to go outside without anyone seeing me. My tears were about to burst. Patrick saw me and all I could do was look at him and shake my head as if to say, “don’t even talk to me right now because the dam is about to break.” I walked past another person and choked “not now” as the tears began to fall. When I made it to the woods (finally) I cried and walked and wrestled with God. WHY was this happening?
That wasn’t the only tearful walk I had with God in those woods.
In February there was the plane ride from Bangkok to Dubai. All the lights were off and I used my headlamp to write in my diary. Tears fell from my face and soaked the pages. My heart was broken. Not over a boy, but over where God had me in life. I was grateful the person next to me was sleeping.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the time I sobbed to Betsy over the phone in the Target parking lot. It was the last Friday in March. This time it wasn’t about work; it was about relationships. I told her I felt like I was in the movie Mean Girls — and the joke was on me. Out of all the times I cried / sobbed / bawled this year, recalling this particular memory is the most painful one of all.
Summer was a blur – I didn’t have time to cry. That is, until everything caught up with me in July and I pretty much cried for two days nonstop. The pain of the previous 10 months had been triggered and came tumbling out relentlessly. I became aware of the depth and weight of pain I had been carrying.
It shocked me.
I knew God was performing triage on my heart. It was as if out of nowhere he dramatically pushed everyone and everything out of the way and said loudly, firmly: SHE HAS HAD ENOUGH. ENOUGH.
God saved me, and by the end of August I was crying tears of relief.
But you didn’t stop there, 2015.
Fall swirled in with all its vibrant colors and falling leaves, and I moved out of The House with the Yellow Door.
This move introduced a whole new era of pain.
I’ve been told our fears are never actually as bad as we think they will be. I politely disagree. Sometimes they are just as bad. Sometimes they are worse.
By moving out I faced my fear of being alone in this world. I tore down the veil of relational comfort and safety and security, and I stared rejection in the eye.
It stabbed me like a knife.
I ditched my diary and instead created a document on my computer called Pain (Slash Real Life) so my fingers could keep up with everything I needed to process.
“Everything inside me hurts, aches, longs. I feel so left out. My biggest fear come true,” I wrote in the opening paragraph.
There’s a kind of loneliness you feel in a crowded room, and there’s the kind of loneliness you feel in a crowded room of people you have history with.
I wrestled with God. I wept. I told him if I had known it would be this hard I wouldn’t have done it.
On December 5 I wrote, “I HATE this season of life. I want it to be OVER. Death is painful. Excruciating.”
And then I gave up.
I stopped wrestling. I stopped whining. I let death win. I dove into the arms of my Best Friend instead.
2015, you know how the rest of the story goes. I found a settledness and a tranquility in my spirit. I let fear and worry wash away, I let hope and inspiration fill my soul.
So, 2015, you didn’t crush me in the end. Instead you taught me some hard lessons about priorities, boundaries, relationships, perseverance, leadership, and life – and for that I am grateful.
You revealed to me layers of pride, performance, control, and fear that coated my insides. You gave me opportunity to release these traits, and I did. (Though I’m sure there are more layers to be found…)
2015, I’m not going to miss you. But I do want to thank you. You broke my heart and my spirit, but you gave me so many treasurers along the way. I will take these nuggets of gold with me into 2016 and carry them closely, like a mother holding her baby against her chest.
I won’t forget what we’ve been through. I won’t forget all the hard times I mentioned above, and I won’t forget the good times either. When you whisked me away to Paris or when we saw those two wild lions in South Africa. When I flew a plane in Colorado and repelled down a waterfall in Ecuador. When I ate beignets in Louisiana and stood as a bridesmaid next to Tiffany, who I met through you. As much as you drove me crazy, 2015, you were also good to me.
But it’s over between us. You had your way with me and now I’m leaving you for another year.
Sure, 2016 might seem like a rebound. And yeah, I’ll admit, 2016 is bright and new and sexy. I was wearing a black dress when we met, and 2016 took my hand and danced with me. Unlike you.
But I want you to know I am committed to 2016. I know it won’t always be easy, I know more tears will be shed and my heart is bound to be broken again.
I also know 2016 is brimming with promise. I haven’t felt this inspired in a long time. I’m reading more, writing more (if you couldn’t already tell), dreaming more. I have a sense 2016 wants to bring out my best. I can tell we are going to share more laughter than tears.