In May, I posted the following Facebook status (which my friends so lovingly teased me for), “weekend recap: fly, cry, hug, love, work, hurt, fun, run, sleep, eat, glad, grad, fly, guy”. Although the year wasn’t even half over at the time, when I look back to my third year of living in Nashville, this status summarizes the year beautifully.
That particular weekend I returned to Nebraska to attend my youngest sister’s high school graduation. While those words were tailored for one weekend, they set the tone for the remainder of 2010; and although my friends prefer to hang onto the last word of the phrase, each word in that list deserves attention.
“Fly, cry, hug, love”
At my sister’s graduation reception, I found essays she wrote in fourth and fifth grade. Both years she wrote “my wish is to see my sister not just on weekends” or “my favorite place is in Arkansas, because that is where my sister lives”. I cried. When I shared my life story with my church and relived emotions that I hadn’t known for years, I cried. When I crossed three finish lines after running for 13.2 miles, I cried. When I allowed myself to be truly open and real with my friends, I cried. When someone reached into my heart and saw truth that I thought I was hiding, I cried. These tears are new territory for me. I’m learning how to allow my real emotions to surface so that others can see them. Vulnerability does not come easily, I’m much more comfortable being guarded, but it’s like seeing the ocean for the first time – freeing, refreshing, and you feel alive.
Hugs and love flow abundantly on “Monday nights”, which continue to be my favorite night of the week. “Perfect love casts out all fear” became one of my life lessons, something a person can only understand after choosing to believe that she is loved perfectly. Monday nights helped me to grasp this, as a group of us weekly attempt to live out our understanding of the gospel. We aim to follow Jesus Christ through our actions, choosing to leave behind judgments and stereotypes, and joyfully struggling every step of the way.
“Work, hurt, fun, run, sleep, eat, glad, grad”
My 2010 could be titled “Milestones”.
- Three years is the longest I’ve lived anywhere since high school.
- Twenty months is the longest I’ve been immersed in a strong community of friendships since the age of seventeen.
- August marked the first full year of consistent employment since moving to Nashville in 2007.
- Last year, I could not even climb a flight of stairs without running out of breath. This year, I completed three half marathons. My cousin ran the first and third races with me, completing the third a full 26 minutes faster than the first.
- I became a nonprofit board member for the first time, and co-founded a second nonprofit organization.
- I left one church, and joined another.
- I finally moved into my own apartment, after living with more than 25 roommates over the last ten years.
- 2010 holds the current record for number of blissful, memorable moments.
- Great joy also brought great pain. From physical soreness as my body strengthened to run those races, to emotional stress from relationships and busy-ness, and finally spiritual attacks which fight my obedience to what the Holy Spirit has called me to do.
In a story that, at times, made me feel like I was in the middle of an award-winning movie, I found healing, hope, and strength. I’m thankful to the Holy Spirit for finding a way to break down the steel walls around my heart and freeing me from the prison I had put myself in. Miraculously, my heart was strengthened in the process. Maybe someday I’ll realize it was the strength and health of my own heart and spirit which broke down those prison walls, but for now I’m just going to be extraordinarily grateful for one short flight in May and the friendship that developed there.
When telling my story, I usually divide my life into categories according to where I lived. Each move creates good markers for telling the story, since I seem to be in constant transition (I usually move every 1.5 – 2 years). As a result, I’m in awe that three years of Nashville are behind me, much longer than my usual pace, and I’m finding that my life here is just beginning instead of closing another chapter. This is new space for me, but I’m enjoying every minute of it and am thrilled to see what happens next.