Last night (okay, let’s be honest, in the wee hours of this morning) I sat uncomfortably in bed scrolling through my various social media news feeds. I read through the various posts of friends about everything they accomplished in 2015, to name a few, they: lost 100lbs, had a baby, got married, filled a passport, fell in love, reconnected with birth parents, disclosed a sexual assault that had been haunting my friend for years, had a book accepted for publication, was accepted to a prestigious graduate school, earned a perfect ACT score, worked at Harvard, graduated from Juilliard, and won a Noble prize. Okay, I lied about the last one, but after reading all of the glamorous things my friends did in 2015, I won’t be surprised if, in a few years, that is there. I was left discouraged and perplexed, as looking at social media usually leaves me, as I thought back on my own year. It felt like 2015, for me, was the year of failure.
2015 was tough, I: was stood on my 21st birthday, studied for months for the LSAT only to receive a “slightly above average” score, was rejected from my top choice law school, lost my financial aid, accumulated debt for the first time, informed I was .001 points away from graduating with honors, had my heart broken by a guy I’ve liked for years, lost two jobs, broke my six year streak of acquiring an annual passport stamp, watched marriages fall apart, saw addictions overtake the lives of ones I love, experienced failures of integrity, almost walked away from my faith, and last night I watched my all time favorite TV character be killed off from his show. No love, no babies, no ivy league acceptance letters. I did all of this while trying to make it look like I had the perfect life on social media, as we all do. It was tough. After realizing all this I put down my phone, slid under my covers, and escaped my frustration by falling asleep.
When I woke up this morning, I let out a deep breath. “You did it, you survived,” I sighed to myself. And, after getting my much needed bowl of Honeycombs, I realized that just surviving, is sometimes okay. This year, I determined, was my “foundation laying” year. Have you ever seen a foundation for a house be made? It’s tough. All of the rocks and dirt must be dug up and flattened. Perhaps, this was my year of getting rid of rocks: the guy that left me—I now realize—did not truly care about me, the friends I lost were friends of convenience not goodness (Google Aristotle’s ideas on friendships to understand this more), the marriages crumbled because truth came to the surface, and I saw others fail in areas of integrity before I had a chance to truly trust them and be betrayed.
After the rocks are kicked out, the foundation has to be put down, completely smooth and without fault. The slightest fault could cause the entire structure to come crumbling down later. I realized this year, I also put down my foundation: I had difficult but good conversations with friends that restored and strengthened our friendship, I was accepted to law schools, that, if I’m honest with myself, are a better fit and wiser financial investment, I became a better communicator and realized some of my relationships were emotionally toxic so I chose to end them, my faith with God was not broken, I became part of an awesome prayer group, and God provided for me to return to school. Not bad.
With my foundation down, I look ahead to 2016, and like many of you, I’m terrified.
My life revolves around planning and structure, and structure and planning. My closest friends can attest that I get into a “real funk,” to say the least, when my plans are thrown off. I am entering 2016 with no plan. I have no idea where I will be in 6 months. Graduated from college, hopefully. Preparing to attend law school, hopefully. Employed, hopefully. I am hopeful, but not certain.
I am terrified that I have no idea where I will go to law school. This decision, second only to deciding if and to whom I will marry, is the biggest decision of my life. A decision that, no doubt, will affect generations after me. No biggie (sarcasm).
This week I also realized my lifelong dream will not come true. I’ve had this dream of making money in some city as an attorney, and returning home to the hill I grew up on with my mom’s side of the family and putting a log cabin on my own large piece or property. Due to various events and discoveries of the past week, I realized this dream, the dream that has fueled every employment and academic decision of the past five years of my life, will not come true. Saying this has put in a funk, is an understatement.
If you have read to this point, it’s because something I’m saying has connected with you. Maybe 2016 terrifies you, too. Perhaps you, your spouse, parent, or child has been diagnosed with an incurable illness, the bank just foreclosed your house, you found out your partner is cheating on you, you were told you or your partner is infertile or for the first time in your life you are questioning your faith. My friend, these are tough. I will not diminish your pain and say it will all work out, or that everything will be okay. Your pain, my friend, is so valid, and I am truly sorry.
So, what can I tell you? I can tell you that you are very loved, you a worthy of love, and you are worthy of being respected. Even though He may feel a million miles away, the God of the universe, the Creator of light, knows your name and loves you. He does not neglect your pain, but can empathize. My faith has given my pain a purpose; I have a purpose. The emotional and physically pain I feel makes me look forward to the day I will be with God, in a perfect place, where pain is a distant memory. This is the hope I cling to, and that I encourage you to cling to as well.
Please, my friend, let’s pray for each other. Contact me and let me know how I can encourage you and pray for you. You are loved, I love you, and care about your soul. More than me, God loves you. I pray in the excitement of the new year, you are able to feel that.
Much love and many blessings,