The Year I Didn’t Survive

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It’s been a while. A long while. A year.
I’d love to say that ceasing to blog was a positive, intentional choice that gave me some personal, no-pressure space, but the truth is, though I began blogging intentionally, I never intended to stop.
In 2014, I spent 6 amazing, fun months blogging for a bunch of other people, writing articles and posts for a spattering of small businesses with interests from organic food to political law. Constantly writing for other people pushed me to create more time to develop my own writing, but it also snatched the time I had to write for myself.
And part of writing is for myself. All writers will admit that, on some level, they write for themselves. They’re compelled and coerced to write – they can’t help it. It’s an identity thing.
To be honest, it’s a little annoying to be forever writing in your head, re-working what you’re going to say, editing discussions and circumstances, seeing personal situations like a comedy script or a human interest novel, thinking you’ll get things right the next scene around, rehearsing potential conversations in front of a mirror or on paper, believing that if you simply change a few elements, tweak a few characters, your story will fall into place.
But that’s the write-life.
At the end of 2014, much of the content from my 6 months of writing was left unpublished. A great portion of what was published was removed from websites post-publication. From the small portion remaining on websites, my name was removed.
Then, a financial crisis sent me packing back to where my story began in Detroit, MI to do what I’d sworn never to do post-graduation: move in with my parents for a month.
I’m not going to bore anyone with too many details, but the beginning of 2015 fell on an uprooted, unhinged, and discontent 22 year old, who did not believe that “everything’s gonna be alright.” Perhaps that shaky sentiment came across in my last blog post.
The new year always find me evaluating goals and priorities, assembling a reading list, pulling items off my bucket list that I want to do, setting new challenges for myself, seeing what I need to work on.
But at the beginning of 2015, I was watching pieces of myself shatter like champagne glasses on a collision course and fall to the ground like confetti to sad strains of “Au Laud Sang.” My past, present, and what I believed to be my future blended and broke in ways that made reading lists and bucket lists seem stupid. Forget about goal evaluation and areas of improvement; I needed a complete re-haul.
I came to hate my character, who I was as a person.
As a result, I came to God with my specialty: another list. Something like a “Honey-To-Do” list, fix-this-in-that-order.
Seeing my sin and ugly roots from God’s perspective was truly a gift. I had a lot of sin problems and ugly roots, many of which I’d planted myself – I still do. Pride had me thinking that I was put together and in control, something I’d asked God to remove from me.
A lot can happen in a year.
God is full of grace. He’s never showed me problems He doesn’t plan to carry me through; He’s never showed me something broken that He doesn’t plan to fix – on His time, His way, without my “To Do” list for spiritual character transformation.
He ripped my list up.
He ripped my heart open.
He ripped a lot of things out of my life.
Those sentences may sound rough to people who cling to the gentleness of God; I cling to God’s gentleness, too. The push that throws the child out of the way of the oncoming car, making her land in tears with scrapped elbows and knees is gentle compared to hospitalization, broken bones, death. A broken heart is better than a dead heart. God loves a broken heart.
Psalm 34:18 says that God is near to the broken-hearted and He rescues those with crushed spirits.
Psalm 51:17 says that God never hates nor refuses a broken heart.
But a broken heart still hurts. Pretending it doesn’t won’t make the pain go away. I can’t be macho with God.
God didn’t ask for my permission to break my heart – He doesn’t need to, but He did give me some time to adjust to the idea. He gave me some time to grow into the knowledge that His heart was broken and soft and tender, and He wants to give me another thing to have in common with Him.
What if you looked at your story and hated your favorite character? What if your favorite character was also your main character? What if that character was simultaneously your protagonist and antagonist? What if that character was you? That’s what it’s like to see pride and a hard heart.
But God offers a much better, humbling, real healing.
This healing is like looking at your story and realizing it’s not yours. It’s loving your favorite character, finding He’s your main character and the Author, and being saved by Him every day. It’s realizing you’re simultaneously an ant in the big picture story and the apple of the Author’s eye. It’s celebrating every new chapter – and all the previous chapters, no matter how ugly.
I’ve come to understand a little better how I’m new in God. Being new doesn’t mean burying and hiding the old; it means uncovering, uprooting, breaking, and burning the old; it means only building on the brand-new foundation, the Ancient Cornerstone.
A part of me didn’t survive 2015, but now I’m thrilled. In fact, I hope another part of me doesn’t survive 2016.
“He must increase; I must decrease.” John 3:30.

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