Are you like me – someone, who lives for perfect, untouched moments during a holiday or celebration? It’s a little silly when I say it out loud. But I quickly learned that my expectations for perfection in these events were not always meetable. Transitioning from 2018 to 2019, in the back of my mind I wished for my move to 2019 to be hopeful, vision-filled, fresh, and exciting. But that was not the case.
I found myself angry, bitter, depressed and feeling isolated. My mind was so clouded in the hurt and pain I allowed to take root that I couldn’t take a step back and enjoy the moments surrounding me! New Year’s Eve was fun and exciting with family toasting with orange juice in dollar-store glasses. I’ll admit I spent half that time wallowing in bitterness and shame. A voice in the back of my mind said, “C’mon, Hope! You can do better than this!” Answering people with harsh, short comments? Folding my arms and frowning at every little thing with judgment… this wasn’t me.
It wasn’t until later that week during a moment of vulnerability with my mom helped me realize that I was grieving. Grieving? I thought grieving was solely tied to a death or loss or… wait a minute. It made sense.
During Thanksgiving break, I said goodbye to a dream. My parents and I sat down together and came to an agreement. We all had peace about it and looking at it, I’m thankful for that moment and my parents. After a year of planning and with a month away, we decided to close the door on study abroad in England.
There were many factors that played into this decision, but the important thing was we felt more peace about saying no
I finished my fall semester strong with kind words and loving friends and family surrounding me. Christmas season was a blast and I loved celebrating, relaxing, and EATING (you know what I mean?). Yet the day after Christmas, as soon as I woke up, it felt as though my heart and my joy dropped to my feet. My heart and spirit were heavy, and I felt unhappy and edgy. I recognized that some of what I was feeling was a let down of my expectations and the reality of the decision settling in. My plans stopped at Christmas and now what was I supposed to do? I had no plan after that and that terrified me.
The day after New Year’s, I was lying in bed watching Flyboys, a movie about American WWI pilots, and within the movie, there were aerial shots of the French countryside. Green plots of land and seas of lined trees and bushes caught my breath and brought tears to my eyes. Thoughts began rushing through my head and I realized that this was the week I was supposed to be boarding a plane. This was the week I was supposed to be attending orientation for international students to study for 5-6 months in England. This was the week my dream was supposed to come true. I became incredibly overwhelmed very quickly.
And I cried.
Wow. What a way to start 2019 right? This moment tore me apart and I sobbed tears of hopelessness and pain. I was about to start my senior year of college which meant, in my mind, I would never have the opportunity to study abroad for a semester again. I held onto that pain for the next few days and lashed out at the people around me because I didn’t think they understood. I hit a low, unhealthy point. But isn’t that where the enemy loves to put us? Isolated and throwing a pity-party? But thank goodness that Jesus has already won the victory and nothing formed against us shall stand (Isaiah 54:17). Evil may try, but it will never win.
At the beginning of 2019, I shared a vulnerable moment with my mom. I cried, shared, and released. She gave me wisdom and a hug. Wow, I love my momma.
I cleared out the lies and the committee in my mind telling me it wasn’t fair. I remembered who my God was and His promise in Jeremiah 29:11-12.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans for good and not for evil, for a future and a hope. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.'”
I remembered who my Jesus is. He has a plan. He has a purpose. There is purpose in the pain, and there are dreams that He plants in our hearts for us to treasure. God placed that seed in my heart to travel and go abroad, but it did not play out the way I envisioned. Can you relate, friend? Did you have a dream you had to say goodbye to? One that Jesus asked you to let go because perhaps He had a better, richer purpose or plan for that dream seed in your heart? Because I am in town for the spring and the summer, doors open and appear that wouldn’t be possible if I studied abroad.
This entire situation bittersweet. But it reminds me of the image of the little girl holding the teddy bear and Jesus holding a bigger one behind his back. The little girl says, “But I love it, God.” With a gentle hand reaching out, Jesus says, “Just trust me.” I thought that the dream He planted in my heart would grow and look like one beautiful thing, but He sees that seed growing somewhere else richer and more purposeful as another.
I still grieve a little bit for what I have “lost” and smile sadly when I watch a British television program. My heart aches that another few months will go by without seeing my friends in England and Northern Ireland. But I’ve got to remember it’s not for forever. I will see them again and will travel abroad someday. This I know. Another thing I know is that I have His hope as an anchor for my soul. I am indescribably excited and terrified at the same time for the future. I
Looking at 2019, I walk into it with imperfect courage, vulnerability, going scared, embracing the adventure, and trusting Him with my heart in its entirety. Instead of judging, comparing, or by-standing this year, let’s go forward with courage to create compassionate, hope-filled spaces for community wherever we are!
Today, January 7th of 2019, I was supposed to be getting off a plane. But now, today, I am stepping towards the greatest adventure of my life right where I am. 2019. Here I am, Lord. Send me.