We’ve come to the season where everyone tends to stop for a moment before jumping into a new year full of resolutions and plans. It’s one of my favorite parts of December. Maybe it’s just that I’m an introspective thinker by nature, but I think there is something wonderfully bittersweet about recognizing the transition between seasons.
The beautiful thing about taking an account of the past year is that it lets you reflect on the ways that life has changed and grown you, the little places that God was working, the forgotten prayers that were answered after all. I believe firmly in the power of setting goals and intentions, but I find that we so often get discouraged when we do not stop to consider how far we have come. It’s why I am so much more of a Year in Review person than a New Year’s Resolution one.
As I look back over this year, I am struck by how much has changed. I can honestly say that I am not the same person I was on January 1st. I am stronger, bolder, more hopeful than I ever could have imagined. In 2018, I decided I was going to take an active role in my life. I decided that I was going to show up for it, that I was going to set lofty goals and chase after them fully. This year, I consciously chose to step out in faith. And oh boy, were there ever opportunities to step out in faith.
I quit a full-time job without having a different job to step into. It was one of the biggest, scariest, and somehow, easiest decisions I've ever made. I took the summer off to write, rest, and process through the things that were going on in my brain, and I was able to be available for my people more than I would ever have been able to otherwise. Someone asked me recently if I regretted leaving that job, or wished I had done things differently, and I was able to honestly say that I had no regrets about the situation. Did it stretch me to be unemployed for several months? Yes. But I wouldn't change any part of it. In the end, I found a new job with a consistent full-time Monday to Friday schedule, coworkers I really like, and I'm so incredibly thankful.
I went on dates. I put myself out there, and went on some really good ones and some that were… well, um, not so good. I learned what I will and will not tolerate, how to stand up for myself, how to let go.
I wrote a seven-day devotional on joy which I am incredibly proud of. I also launched the Real Talk Tuesday newsletter and have not missed a week in the last six months. It’s become such an important part of my weekly routine that I don’t want to stop, even if it means throwing it together at 11:30pm on Monday night.
I moved twice. This isn’t something I would recommend if you can avoid it, but again after the fact I have no regrets about the decision to move either time. Packing up your life into boxes is a huge amount of tedious work, but there’s something about it that always makes me feel grateful for the people and possessions I have been blessed with. And for any of my friends concerned about the possibility of being conscripted into helping me move my furniture once again, I’ve got a lease that’s going to keep me in one place for a while.
Friendships that have long been part of my life became stronger, more beautiful. I am so grateful for the people who show up in the hard times, who send me little notes in the mail, who leave meals on my doorstep when they know I’ve had a stressful week, who remind me again and again that I am loved. More than ever, I know who my 3am phone call friends are.
I was given the word "depth" for 2018. I say it was given to me because I'd spent years finding the entire concept of a Word of the Year cheesy and ridiculous. But clear as day at the beginning of January, God planted that word in my heart in that funny way he does, and I couldn't shake it off. As it turns out, it was setting the tone for a year of God's bizarre sense of humor catching me off-guard. But depth has defined my year in so many ways, challenged me to grow in community relationships, to ask big questions about my faith and my understanding of the world, to dig deep and do the hard work.
In 2018, I laid it all on the table, held nothing back. I’m so proud of this last year and the ways that I stood up and declared that I would not let life pass me by. Virtually everything about my life looks different than it did this time last year.
In 2018, I laid it all on the table, left nothing behind. I am incredibly proud of this last year and the ways that I stood up and declared that I would not let life pass me by.
Because 2018 was such an interesting year for me, and because Spotify informed me that I listened for over 18,000 minutes this year, I decided also to make a year in review playlist, with one song for each month. Each month's song was one of the most played for that particular month. This playlist is a testament to the fact that I love sad songs at the best of times (though some of the feels were REAL this year). If you want to know what the inside of my brain sounded like this year, click here to listen to the playlist.
12 Songs for 2018: A Year in Review Playlist
January – 3 Rounds and a Sound by Blind Pilot
February – Land of the Living by Roo Panes
March – New Wine by Hillsong
April – Wild World by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
May – Always Where I Need to Be by The Kooks
June – I Need Never Get Old by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
July – Iffy by Caamp
August – If I Let Go by Titus Haug
September – Atlas: Four by Sleeping at Last
October – Everywhere I Go by Sleeping at Last
November – Shrike by Hozier
December – Places We Won't Walk by Bruno Major
Honorable Mention: Fever to the Form by Nick Mulvey (because I've listened to this song almost every day for the last two years and I'm still not tired of it. It's just that good.)
Changes by Langhorne Slim (because holy moly, this sums up my life too well right now...)
So cheers to the end of one year, to the start of another. May the final hours of 2018 and the first ones of 2019 be sweet and full of celebration. May you find joy in the little things, know that you are loved.