When I graduated last spring, I told myself that this next year would be my transition year. I wouldn’t pressure myself into making a rash decision about where to live or what to do. I would just take my time and wait to see what would happen. And over the days and weeks and months of this year, I feel like I’ve made the transition from child to adult. I know, I know, I’m almost 28, you’d think I’d consider my childhood days long gone, but I’ve held on longer than most.
It was an uncomfortable transition, one that has come with unexpected disappointments and deep hurts. It was realizing that people change and sometimes you can’t go back to the way things used to be. I knew it in my head, but I had to learn it in my heart. And in the midst of tears and pouring out my soul to Jesus (and my Mom), and watching a lot of sappy movies, somewhere in the midst of all that, I changed too. I could feel it in my soul, that this season of uncertainty, of having no clue what I was transitioning into, of loneliness and exhaustion and disappointment, this season was making me deeper. I can’t really explain how I knew it, but my perspective and awareness started to shift.
I often thought about writing during the year, but if I’m honest, I couldn’t bring myself to share any of the things that kept me up at night and weighed my heart down. At the time, it was too raw.
In the midst of my “transition year”, I’ve found myself learning some new things.
I learned how to exercise. Not the once every blue moon or twice a week one month and then skip a month in between. No, I learned how to commit to exercising 4-5 times a week. I learned that I can lift weights and my body will run (in small increments of time). And even if the pounds haven’t poured off of me, learning to exercise has made me feel better about myself and about my health.
I’ve learned a lot about sticking at things and trouble shooting! I somehow found myself in a job that I’m not really qualified for, but it’s opened up a whole new world to me. These people believed in me and have given me the grace and space to learn to do a job that I didn’t go to school for! And the funny thing is that I love it. I love the challenge of such a steep learning curve. I love that I get to meet so many interesting people. I love that my love for photography and videography has been re-awakened! I didn’t expect it, and certainly not in this way.
I’ve learned a lot about what bitterness and anger can do to a person’s heart. And in turn I’ve learned that forgiveness is the only thing that can get rid of those things that take root so easily. Sometimes it’s literally been me asking God every time the situation comes to mind, to help me forgive even when I am still hurt and angry. You don’t realize it then, but God is doing the soul work, little by little.
And maybe the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that God is in the business of restoring people and making all things new.
I thought I was the exception to this.
For a long time I felt like I was sitting on the bench watching the game and all I wanted to do was play. I felt the ache of wondering if God had forgotten about me or if I just wasn’t the type of person he was looking for. I felt like he didn’t see me. Even as I sit here and write these words, tears well up in my eyes because I know that deep ache, that deep longing to be seen and known. I know the deep ache of watching your friends get married, of holding one baby after another wondering if that will ever be your story. I know the ache of wondering if there will ever be anything for you, if what you do really matters and wondering if you were gone, would anyone notice. I know the desire to have meaningful friendships that give you life and the struggle to find a place to belong. And I know what it’s like to walk into parties and church and other special occasions alone, I get what that can do to a person after they’ve done it for the 20th time.
There were a lot of days this year, where I lived in this space, with these thoughts and these aches. But here’s the thing:
I wouldn’t trade it.
I can’t believe I’m saying that. But if I wasn’t there in that place then, then I couldn’t be here in this place now.
It was around Easter time that I started reflecting on the idea of resurrection – how things have to die so they can be resurrected and experience new life. I remember distinctly getting to the place where I said to God that I’m giving up all the things I dream of and hope for, that I’m letting them die! I needed Him to do a resurrection in my life, to make something new out of what was dead. Because none of my efforts were working. I was walking beside the ocean when I told God that I was letting my dreams die because I believe that the dreams he has for me are better than anything I could orchestrate.
It was after those moments by the ocean just laying it all on the table when my year of transition was suddenly over. I left that place with a lightness that I didn’t have previously. Somehow I had this sense that where I am in this stage is where I’m supposed to be and it’s ok that it doesn’t look the way I thought it would. God has new dreams to give me.
And so now I find myself sitting in my new apartment in mid-town Toronto with a roomate! I’m learning how to live in the city and how to park in really tight spaces with my big car. I’m attempting to figure out how to use tools to put furniture together. God has given me a church that I love, something I had given up on finding. He’s given me ministry opportunities left and right, and many working with students. He’s opened my eyes to some of the people around me, that I didn’t notice before. And I’m giving thanks because I never could have dreamed any of this up, these weren’t my dreams. And some days are still really hard, and there are tears and sappy movies. But that’s ok. Cause I know I’m not the only one and my story is still being written.
So maybe you feel like you’re sitting on the bench watching the game, wondering if God has forgotten about you? Maybe you know about the deep aches that I mentioned and have a whole list of your own that you can add. Maybe you’re keeping silent about all that your heart is feeling because it’s too hard to talk about it, and you know that with one word, the levy might just break. Let it break. Pour it all out to a God who does see you and does know you and who wants to love you through the heartache. And maybe it’s time to let some of your dreams die, so God can bring new life to them in ways you could never imagine.