The Year That Changed Me…

365 days…I was sitting in a very different place both physically and spiritually. I was preparing to usher in a new year seeing a favorite Knoxville band perform with my then-boss and friend. Today, I am preparing to usher in 2012 with people I did not know prior to August. While I wax nostalgic, this year has been a difficult one for me on so many levels. Difficult always takes on a harsh tone, however, I do not believe the outcome is a bad one. At least not where I sit on New Year’s Eve of 2011.

I have learned that when you feel for someone, you should voice it. You should not dance around the issue or attempt to be the friend when you desire more than that in return. Speak up for yourself if you truly feel conviction about it. This year taught me that no matter how much one strives to be the someone else for another, unless it’s God ordained, it will not come to fruition. I have learned to leave things where they should be left, not reaching back, but stretching forward. To stop grasping at things which God has removed in order to bring about selfish wants, to satisfy the self over God’s desires. I have learned that some friendships are not meant to last past a few months. That when you begin expecting more from a friend than they exhibit, that is the moment to walk away from the friendship as it never was a friendship to begin with. I have learned to walk courageously into the unknown with the One who lives in me daily. He will guide me to places that make me uncomfortable, that are hard…seeking for me to be fully reliant upon Him for all things and in all situations.

I have learned I am far weaker than I had led myself to believe, and for that I am immensely grateful. Though I am weak, HE is strong. I have learned God will answer the prayers of the vigilant, of the fervent in His timing, in ways far beyond imagination of the human mind. Most of all, I have learned what it is to love. To fully love with abandon. To feel so full of the love only God can give and to desire wholeheartedly to pour that out to another of His image-bearers. I have learned that when He calls me to do that, I must obey…despite all the world tells me, despite my greatest fears, and despite my inadequacies. This year, that love came in the form of 75 beautiful orphans in Haiti. It came in the form of my family. It came in the form of friends who cared, called, and prayed with me through some rough patches. It came in the form of a verse on the wall in my now-boss’s office during my interview. It came in the words of a missionary in Uganda. Tonight it comes in the form of an ache of seeing would-be friendships fail recently, and the hope of another year to begin loving others…others I have not met yet, others I have known for years…

I pray above all each of you experiences love this year. Real love, the love eternal of the One in whose image you were created. The love of sacrifice in which Christ gave so that you might live at this moment. The love in which He defeated death, claiming victory over the devil so that you might be reading this at this very moment. The love that seeks you out now…the LOVE of God who calls to you now. I pray you receive that openly and freely today, as a new day dawns, a new year…the year of God in you.

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