I turn 23 in 23 days.
somehow, getting older both doesn’t feel quite real and also seems as though it should have happened a long time ago. I’ll quote nick miller of New Girl and say that it does indeed feel like I’m finally “aging into my personality”. proud twenty-something grandma at heart over here!
it comes to my attention though, that on birthdays what we really celebrate is not just the person themselves, but the path & journey that lead them to who they are. oh, what a path I’ve had, guys. what a frigging journey. these past 12 months have been one doozy of a year. and, as it usually goes, I never saw it coming.
so often that’s how it goes, right? we get so busy surviving that we forget to embrace each of the moments as teachers for our souls. we get so busy trying to get through things & get over things that we forget to get inside our own hearts and feel the things.
so I’m going to be doing two things before my birthday this year.
1) I’m going to take a cue from my girl shelby over at a select arrow blog, and do 23 brave things- one each day- to decisively & pointedly finish off a year that had me running scared for so much of it. I’ll let you know how it all goes after my birthday 😉
2) I’m going to write a letter to myself a year ago. (Shhh… I know it’s cheesy) I do this every year in my personal journal, but I’ll chronicle it here, publicly, this time around. you might think this doesn’t take bravery anymore- I’ve made vulnerability a staple practice in my life. but it does. showing up always takes bravery. it’s always still a little scary, and it always makes my heart skip just a best to press that “publish” button and give out pieces of my heart to the world.
but I’m going to keep it up.
so here’s brave thing (1/23).
a letter to the last-year me…
I’ll start with this: you will survive this year.
you will lose people very dear to your heart to preserve your own mental & spiritual health. you will say tearful goodbyes to toxic relationships, open your hands to release stunted relationships, and embrace unexpected friendships with a wild and open heart. the depths of it all will be overwhelming and heartbreaking and wonderful. and the growth will be worth it all.
you will travel places you’ve never been, further than you’ve ever been. you’ll explore desert and mountain and ocean and rainforest. you will fling open your arms to the wings of adventure and board more planes in four months than you have your whole life. you’ll misplace tickets & boarding passes, miss boarding times, run the length of airports, and brave the middle seat on 6 hour flights. and the adventure will be worth it all.
you will travel alone to find true community in the Arizona desert with your tribe of yogi sisters, and your heart will shatter with the beauty. and for the first time in your life your heart will feel entirely free. for the first time in your life you will understand the church as it is meant to be understood. for the first time, you will surrender the weights of your soul. for the first time, you will meet the origins of your good, good self and be dumbfounded by the blessing poured out onto your heart by the Divine. for the first time, you will begin to see the roots of your deconstruction. and the new you underneath will be worth it all.
you will discover women who lift you up, empower you, and challenge the way you think. they will do this from afar & up close. they will get right into your heart and you will see yourself in them. you will learn to weigh their words and find wisdom in every mouth. and the discovery will be worth it all.
you will find new vocabulary to resonate with & give voice to the crashing waves in your soul. you will allow yourself to evolve spiritually, to not apologize for it. you’ll feel confusion and shame surrounding your deconstruction, even though it’s right. that will be hard to let go of, but you’ll do it. and the freedom will be worth it all.
you will become an entirely new person.
you will be faced with the most beautiful, terrifying surprise of your life… being a mama. and pregnancy will be hell. and you will cry silent tears. and people will be insensitive and rude and compare your pain & anxiety to diminish it. and you will spend some days crumbling. but others you will rise and lift your voice and speak your truth, and you will be free. you will be sick and exhausted and bed ridden. you will spend nights in the hospital and days in full-on labor. you will think you are going to die, but you won’t. you will have prenatal PTSD surrounding traumatic hospital stays, and you will have postpartum anxiety that threatens to steal away the precious moments. but you’ll steal them back. and the beautiful new life will be worth it all.
you will drive across the country and leave everything behind, and it will be the loneliest time. you’ll spend weeks in deep depression and months feeling weary. it will be scary, and your marriage will reap precious benefits. and the journey will be worth it all.
your husband will be sick. you’ll spend weeks at doctors and hospitals, and there will be surgery. you’ll be afraid for his health, you’ll have to deal with insurmountable chaos and fear and too many visitors but not enough help. your holy yoga sisters will be the ones who come through for you over and over again. and the depth of your love will be worth it all.
you will be brave and terrified. you will speak out and stay hushed. you will become more of you than ever before.
you will put all of your heart and soul and journey and evolved theology into words on paper and you’ll hold it in your hands, and people across the nation will hold it in theirs too. and it will speak to their hearts and lift shame and bring peace. and your dream will feel validated. and the holiness of the dream will be worth it all.
you will be shocked and disgusted at the behavior of those who claim hope under the name of Jesus. your country will make you afraid. and then you will stand up and claim love. and the courage will be worth it all.
you will be mocked, judged, harassed, and bullied for repping love. and the holiness will be worth it all.
you will grow so much, your roots reaching deeper into the soil of your faith. your branches screaming joy up into the sky. your heart finding shalom in breathless places. you will change. and it will be the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to your heart.