I can’t believe a year has come and gone since I shared this post with you all. And here I am, celebrating another trip around the sun. If I’m being fully honest, this has not been a birthday I have been looking forward to celebrating. In fact, I had planned on skipping it all together. And while I’m not quite ready to share my full story with you all here on the blog, I did want to dedicate today’s post to sharing what I’ve learned as I’ve walked through adversity.
This past year was the hardest year of my life. It was filled with grief and loss, hurt and betrayal, a lot of difficult changes, and a violent car accident, that 4 months later, has left me with lingering health issues. BUT as hard as this past year was, it was also one of the most amazing and fruitful years of my life. I developed some of the richest friendships I’ve ever had, I was able to spend an exponential amount of time with my family and my niece, I accepted a new job that was created specifically for me, and I bought a new home that I love. I also learned a lot of about myself, what it looks like to persevere, and most importantly, deepened my relationship with Jesus. So with that, here are the lessons I’ve learned that helped to carry me through the difficult days. And my hope in sharing this, is that it will help some of you:
- Be gentle with yourself. When you are walking through something difficult, it’s ok that it feels hard, or even impossible. It’s ok to take the time you need to grieve. It’s ok if you can’t get out of bed. And it’s ok to really feel what you need to feel so that you can process it and move on.
- Take care of you. I learned that I was really good at taking care of others, but not nearly as good at taking care of myself. And it’s been a fun process to discover what it means to put myself first.
- Make appointments with your grief. This was hugely instrumental for me. Particularly as I was navigating everyday day life and a demanding career. I found that if I could set aside time to grieve, it helped me to hold things together when I needed to, and kept me moving forward in a healthy way.
- Let others help you. This was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. I love to do things for other people, but struggled to let other people do things for me. But once I was in my car accident and couldn’t take care of myself for a little while, I really had no choice. It felt vulnerable and scary at first, but it was also an incredible experience to let people in and let them love on me (Matthew 5:4).
- Vulnerability is beautiful. It is so important to be vulnerable and share with the right people. Being totally transparent with my family and closest friends was not only freeing, but was also incredibly healing.
- Make sure you are FULLY known by at least one other person in your life. One of my best friends says this a lot, and it is so true. Whether it is a spouse, a friend, a parent, make sure there is one person in your life who knows your FULLY. Darkness breeds darkness, and the enemy preys on isolation, so it’s important that we live fully in the light and are known.
- Joy and sorrow can exist in the same space. While I had a lot of sorrow in my life this last year, it was also mixed with an abundance of joy. That felt confusing to me at first. But once I learned it was ok to feel both at the same time, it made it a lot easier to extend myself some grace and banish the guilt (John 16:20).
- We are fully equipped to deal with what happens in our lives. I had heard a sermon about this once, and it really resonated with me. And as I look back on the last couple of years, and really on my entire life, I can see the plans that God was laying that would allow for me to be prepared, protected, and able to weather this storm. And even more importantly, come out stronger on the other side (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
- Lean in. We are stronger than we think we are if we lean into Jesus. If someone had told me ahead of time what would happen in my life, I don’t think I would have believed that I’d get through it. But I did. And I am a stronger and more compassionate person because of it. But that is not of my own doing. It is because I leaned in hard, dug deep into my faith, and trusted fully in His plan for me (Mark 10:27).
- You won’t be in the valley forever. One day last summer, my brother and I were sitting in his kitchen, and he encouraged me not to miss out on any more of my life and what my future could be because I was too afraid to let go of the past and my own plans for my future. And in that moment, I realized that God was giving me the choice to leave the valley and start climbing my way back to the top of the mountain. That is the path I chose. And while some days it’s still incredibly hard and that loss still feels unbearable, as I embark on this 36th year of my life, I am finding myself in a wonderful, happy new season. I have been afforded a fresh start. I have a heart filled with gratitude. I have a life full of people who love and support me. And most importantly, I am enjoying the sweet moments of the present, and eagerly anticipating what is to come. Ever hopeful and believing in the plan that God has in store for my life (Jeremiah 29:11). So cheers to another year, and the adventure, love, and happy times to come…
And I also want to say THANK YOU for all of your love and support along the way. Love you guys and am SO very grateful for this community.