A part of me is afraid to reflect on this past year because I am afraid to fully claim that it is over, to step into whatever newness God has for me. This sounds crazy, I know.
I am afraid to close this chapter because it made me lose faith in my ability to tell me own story. And I refuse to start a new chapter without being in control of what is written.
Here, like the artist that I am, I must digress.
There’s this thing about giving it all to God, about surrendering your plans to His will. By this logic… we don’t get to write our own stories. This troubles me, in this period of my life where I long for control over my circumstances. But what I am realizing as I write this is that there is still immense power in giving God the pen.
Which brings me back.
I don’t know who had the pen this year.
More than anything, I feel that I let life happen to me. Somewhere along the way, I lost my fight. I didn’t know who/what was writing my story in part because I didn’t care. This year bred in me a passivity unlike any I’ve ever imagined myself capable of having. I am a whole poet, a writer, a wordsmith, and I was frivolous with my pen.
If we are attributing blame (and I like to think that I owe myself this grace), I’ll give it to depression. It drew the color for many days. It stole the energy from my bones. It tricked me into believing that I was a docile body, a being with no agenda.
I am a spoken word poet, seasoned in the art of public speaking, and I allowed mental illness to silence my voice.
To exercise gratitude.
Looking back on this year, I realize that my highest moments occurred when I existed outside of the confines of self-imposed isolation. I am a proud, Myers-Briggs-certified introvert, so to know that I was not, in fact, at my best when I was alone pains me more than I can articulate here.
I would be lying if I said that this year’s peace and joy came from anywhere other than other living, breathing beings. I learned to hear the words “I love you” in questions like, “Did you eat today?” I know how uncomfortable it made Ashley to see me cry, but she stayed. I know my mother doesn’t understand this at all (and honestly, neither do I), but she’s reading and she’s trying. They all seem to be praying.
My dad calls this a spiritual battle, and while I would never undermine my or others’ experiences with depression and anxiety by ignoring its underlying chemical causes, I know that he is at least partially right. I was under attack, and by forces beyond the earthly realm.
This is what I know.
I serve a God of resurrection, a God of second and third and fourth and fifth chances, a God of infinite love, a God of grace.
I serve a God who has instilled in me the power to overcome and to rise again.
The day before I turned twenty, I got a tattoo across my left forearm with the words, Sunday’s coming. This is what I told myself in my lowest moments—that although it may feel like all is lost, there lives in me the very same power that rose Jesus from the grave.
As I close this chapter. As I (prepare to) give God the pen. There is still fear (of the unknown). But. More than that. There is promise.
My story is not over.