change, intentionality, and joy || lessons from 2014

Change, while difficult, has always been exciting to me. I’m not exactly the best at standing still, therefore I like the new and the unexpected. So, fittingly, I love New Year’s. I love the resolutions and the energy and the anticipation for something new to happen. It also allows for some solid reflection time, time for us to learn from what happened and evaluate what we want for the future.

My 2014 started in Africa and will end in Indiana and nothing could have prepared me for what happened in between.

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I traveled and I laughed and I loved and I cried. I wrote words I never thought I could write and ran miles I didn’t think my body was capable of running. I ended things I thought were permanent and grew deeper with people who were right in front of me. I discovered I was good at the things I deeply wanted to be good at and most of all, I learned I was worthy of the life I wanted to live.

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I am worthy of the life I want to live. I still get excited writing these words because it’s something I’m just beginning to believe. Because for so long I didn’t think I was good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or creative enough to be a good teacher or friend or writer, so I simply didn’t try. And I still feel that sometimes, I still struggle and get confused and angry and frustrated because I’m human. But by allowing myself to receive the grace of a good God and live in the freedom He provides, I’ve discovered the joy of living a life of intentionality.

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This year I started to take action. I stopped allowing life to just happen to me and I made some of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. And while I initially thought they would cause me to be lonely and dissatisfied and confused, I found myself surrounded by an unbelievably supportive community, satisfied with the life I decided to believe I was worthy of living, and more focused than I’ve been in a long time. I started things I didn’t think I could start, began to be more present in relationships that mattered to me, and fully invested in work that was meaningful to me.

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And in the midst of all of this, I started to believe that my life mattered. That what I had to say and what I did affected the people around me and I had the ability to control whether this was a negative or positive thing. And so I started paying attention in my own life, investing in what helped me grow and love the people who surrounded me. I discovered that the life Jesus outlines in the Bible is truly the best life we can live. So if it took some pain and struggles to get here, well, I’m grateful.

I don’t know what happened to you this year, but I do know that it mattered and that what you learned is valuable. Every single experience, even the messy ones you want to bury, happened on purpose and I promise you, somewhere down the road, it will turn into something good.

As you step into 2015, wherever you are, please know that you are worthy of the life you desire to live. If you want to start writing or painting or running or taking classes or apply for that job, start. Go; take the steps to get there. You may not be perfect at first, but you have the capability to keep learning and to get better. This world needs you to be passionate about something that matters so make the hard decisions and, with God alongside of you, get there. Learn from what happened in 2014 but don’t let the pain, confusion, and frustration paralyze you. Take a risk, make the decisions you know to be right, and enjoy the surprises.

Happy New Year, people. Let’s make it a good one.

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