What I learned in 2015

Half of 2015 was mostly beautiful with some ugly, and the other half was vice versa. It's been hard, but it's also been full of growth and beauty. I'm believing for continued growth and understanding in 2016. 
Before 2016 becomes the norm, it's good to look back at the fun and important things from last year. Here are some thoughts about what shaped and taught me in 2015.

1) God is steadfast.

On a Monday in June, a dear friend’s father died very suddenly. He was a servant, leader, father, husband, and friend. The day before, the theme of worship in church was God's steadfast love. We didn’t know how timely that was. The weeks and months to follow were full of more intense grief than I and most of the people involved had ever experienced. Things weren't okay, but God was there. 
He orchestrated those events exactly how they should have gone, so much so that it was impossible not to be overwhelmed by how obvious God's presence was in that time. His love is the most steady and sure thing I could ever dream of. Nothing has been the same since then, but I’ve held on to that truth hard, and it's provided more comfort than anything. 

2) Deep friendships are not for the faint of heart. 

Cliché I know, but true nonetheless. This year has been different. Mostly in confusing, hard, tricky ways. My friends have loved me deeply through it all. When tragedy hits, these ladies drop everything to do what needs to be done. The strength of the bonds that we've formed through the years show so brightly in those moments. Life has been painful and hard and scary and messy, but these girls help so much. It's been stunning to realize this year what a gift we've been given in each other. Nobody loves like them.
2) Every moment is a gift. 
In February, Spivey performed at the National Choral Directors Association Convention. That doesn't mean a whole lot to most people, but it is huge in the choral world, and it was huge to us. Dr. Shaw taught me so much just by the thoughtfulness she used in picking the seven pieces we performed. In her words, we only have a finite amount of notes to sing. Only one chance to communicate the gravity of what each song means.
From the National Convention, to Spain, and looking forward to Carnegie Hall this summer, we've all learned to use every note and moment to our advantage. This has become a principle for my life in general. Over the summer I read a book called Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequiest (absolutely recommend). It deals with understanding the beauty and purpose of every stage and moment of life. Life becomes so full and vibrant when it is viewed like that. It's a discipline that I'm trying to learn.

3) You don't have to do something that seems really awesome for it to be worthwhile. 

This summer I worked at an outreach camp that family friends run. I’ve known about it my whole life, but always thought deep down that it was a too familiar, too easy, not special enough ministry for me. 

Well, I spent half of my summer there and it proved me so wrong. It was the most hands on, tiring, and surprising time in ministry I’ve ever had. I learned that right now, I need to be in local missions. Like, five-minute-drive-down-the-road-missions. And I learned that that matters just as much as a cool mission trip out of the country does. 
There were messy things, like serving endless Gatorades and hotdogs, mending fishing rods and bee stings, and consoling kids who think that sweat will kill them. But there were also really beautiful things, like explaining the gospel to little children for the first time in their lives, evening s'mores, chasing goats, and Monday-night pasta dinners. We would load our plates with what felt like a feast after a long day, and worship with a bunch of little joyful voices blending with ours.
Camp taught me that the smallest things often bring the most lasting and pure joy that can be found. I can't wait for this summer.

4) Being an introvert is not bad.
A current struggle I have is wanting to occupy myself constantly so that I don't have time to slow down and think about the problems in my life. It's bad, I know. I'm really on the line between introversion and extroversion, but introversion wins at the end of the day whether I like it or not. This year I've learned and am still learning that it's okay to spend time alone. It doesn't mean that I hate people or am mean or sad or boring. It means that in order to avoid being those things, I need to spend time alone. As much as I want to, I can't go and go and go constantly just to push my problems further away. So, it has become routine that some days need to be days just for me. Windows open, music playing, nail painting, book reading, chocolate eating, journaling, room organizing, kind of days. Amen.

5) Getting away is good for the soul. 
I was blown away this year by God's provision in the tiniest details. Specifically, it seemed like every time there were overwhelming circumstances or I was feeling trapped inside my little hometown, an opportunity to take a trip would pop up. From spontaneous beach trips, to planned vacations, traveling to Europe, or weekends for seeing new places and seeing faaaabulous concerts, getaways abounded and they were always so needed. The timing really was spot on, and every trip was better because of how much I needed it. I'm thankful for travel and God's perfect timing.

So that's that. 2015 is done, and I know 2016 will be crazy and big and full of lots of new things. As I try to approach this year with anticipation rather than apprehension, hopefully these lessons will help me remember that the Lord works everything together for good. Nothing is outside of His steadfast hand, and every new year is blessed because he orchestrates it. Every month, every moment, every small piece. So let's approach tomorrow, and the rest of the year, with joy.
(Post idea from Emily P. Freeman, linked over at her blog.) 


Popular Posts