When I can't fully remember what happened at a certain point in the year, I some times go back and look at my Instagram posts from that time. I think this is a way that social media is helpful...it helps us to remember. Unfortunately, due to the fact that social media also clutters my brain, I went through a couple different cycles of deleting Instagram and not posting any photos. So, for 2015, I only have a handful of pictures to remind me of what happened in 2015.
And yet, they all seem appropriate for what it was.
A picture of the chapel at my church, an event for the ministry I used to work for, pictures of waterfalls from beautiful upstate New York, my brother's wedding, the kids I used to babysit, a trip up north marking the change in my life, St. Maximilian Kolbe, the priest who introduced me to St. Max, and a couple other random pictures.
I hesitate to call 2015 the year where the most change happened. I would probably lay that claim on all of the past 3ish years of my life, because so much has changed in each year. But I think I could count 2015 as the best year of my life so far.
In September of 2014, the light in my eyes was draining slowly out of them due to a whole heap of things that nobody really wants to get into, but it was hitting that lowest of low that set me up for 2015. My old spiritual director told me during that season to stop leaving the operating table, that the Lord was cutting me open and putting me back together, but every time I went to go get operated on, I got scared and hopped off the table before He could do any real work on me.
I remembered this just recently because I found the Chipotle receipt that my notes from that spiritual direction session were written on, tucked into my bible. It reminded me of how little hope I had at that point in my life, and how starkly different my life looks today. How much difference a year can make! I would like to say I have consistently stayed on the operating table, but that wouldn't be completely honest. So, I'll say that I stayed on long enough for some work to get done.
I entered into 2015 recovering from the 2ish months of sheer hopelessness that had more or less wreaked havoc on my life. I don't know what I expected at the beginning of the year. I know I expected to stay at the job I was at, living in upstate New York, and I expected to just keep moving forward.
But instead of just moving forward, I started to grow. I started to sprout out of the ground I had been buried in.
I started running. I started going to young adult things. I started going outside. I started seeing one of those people that no one wants to say they go see because it makes you look crazy (a counselor). As Fr. Joe (aforementioned spiritual director) told me to do, I put myself in a position to receive the joy God had for me, which may seem like an easy thing, but in reality, was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.
And God took pity on me and started to pour down the graces and the joys and the things I needed.
And 2015 ended up being the best year of my life. Not without sorrow, or hardship, or hurt. No, because that is part of any life, any walk. But beautiful. I made beautiful friends, and went to beautiful places (looking at you, Colorado), and encountered the most beautiful thing:
I encountered the love of God. After living for Christ for a good 5ish years, I encountered the love of God in a way that was so real and so tangible and so earth shattering, that I wasn't afraid.
I mean, I was terrified. But I knew I was loved and that brings on a whole new level of courage. I encountered love in the little chapel on Chapel Drive and I didn't have to be afraid anymore. I didn't have to be afraid of choosing joy. I didn't have to be afraid of my life changing, of leaving my job and the place where I had found so much healing and safety. I didn't have to be afraid of really loving people. I didn't have to be afraid of being wrong.
So I made my way back home, and I have never been happier. I wrote in a journal, "Lord, I don't know what to do with happiness." Because I was really happy, really joyful. It was real and it wasn't fleeting and things were (are) still hard, but it was real.
After I came home, I got an awesome job, moved into my own place, started teaching Catechism and talking about Jesus, and did a plethora of other cool things (like seeing the POPE #lifechanged). And now, I keep growing, blooming, rising. The Lord is pulling me up and up and I can't even begin to tell you where that is leading, but I can only be excited for where I'm going next,
And now, as 2016 rears it's head, with lots of questions and new journeys to go on, and looking at 2015, I can only be excited about what the future holds. Because I'm not afraid anymore.