#26.

forgive me, readers – my hands are shaking and my mind is kind of racing because I just capped off my 25th year in style by paying off a nagging credit card in its entirety.

I’m actually sitting in the same Starbucks where I once was on a date with a wonderful girl, with whom a relationship proved to be unsustainable, and I’ve got failure and success on my mind.

We didn’t split up in this shop, but when I think of that date, the sting of failure presses a little further than normal.

But hitting “submit” on that final payment will be memorable for a while to come.

Failure. Success.

It may not come as a surprise to any readers that I recently had the worst year of my life (age 24) and 25 was a big, big rebound year. 25 started off at the lowest point I’ve ever been at – fresh from a breakup, in a financial quagmire, isolated and not surrounded by godly friends in the least, in an apartment I hated, in a job I felt overwhelmed by, with a dog living at my parents house that I got whimsically and had been found incapable of taking care of, uncommitted to a church, alone.

And 25 was entirely uphill. 25 couldn’t have gotten any worse (because I couldn’t have gotten any dumber) and it proved to be a memorable, memorable year.

 

There was the part where I started blogging seriously enough to pay for my own domain.

There was the part where I got out of that gosh-danged apartment.

There was the part where I got my dog back.

There was the part where I got the chance to go to Honduras.

There was the part where I met and got involved with a bunch of new friends my age and in my boat.

There was the part where we hired on a bunch of new people at the shop and they’ve become of my best friends.

There was the part where my boss gracefully let me step down from my administrative position with a view to spend more time writing, (eventually) traveling, maybe being in a play, and spending time investing myself in a local church.

There was the part where I became interested and mentally/financially invested in our political process at the federal and state levels.

There was the part where I sent off for papers to apply to run for State Representative (still waiting on them.)

There was the part where I got to go to the first service at my old church’s new building (back home in Berea.)

There was the part where they invited me to play music and the band literally got back together for the first time in two years.

There was the part where my friends generously picked me up a Chelsea kit with my freaking name on the back while they were in London.

There was the part where I got to drive up to Port Huron, visit my dear friend Travis, and sail a little bit on Lake Huron. I still feel small when I think about that.

There was the time my friends Britt and Hayley got married out in beautiful Lancaster, Kentucky and it was the most joyful wedding I’ve ever seen in my life (and there was the time they came to Kentucky a few months later after moving to Texas and we got to visit again.)

There was the time I started writing a book (if you want to know how that’s going, it’s got the words “chapter 1” written at the top of a page – that’s it for now.)

There was the time when I read all 18 books I was planning to this year.

There was the time I spontaneously whipped and nae-naed with one of my friends in the lobby of the shop.

Oh, and there was Leap Day.

There were the countless tacos and burritos I made myself at home, and

THERE WAS CHIPTOPIA (33 burritos at chipotle in 90 days, to earn free catering for 20)

There were a few musical and pizza nights with Jessie Grace, my adopted little sister.

There was the 5k I ran with my pal and co-worker Evan.

There was the time we got to see my dear friend Lee (D) off with a big celebration of his year in Lexington.

There was the time that Lee (D,) Sean, Kara, Jeff, Alice, Allison and I played Bananagrams in Sean’s dining room.

There was the time I met Senator Rand Paul.

There was the time I met Congressman Andy Barr.

There was the time that Joey, Selena, and I ate ice cream outside on the tables at Kroger because the line at Graeter’s was entirely too long.

There was the hike that TJ (adopted little brother) and I took back in September and connected for the first time in a while, and my heart felt renewed.

There was the time that Lee (B) and I started thinking on Tuesday about getting waffles on friday night and pairing it with a beer at West Sixth and we did exactly that and it was everything we’d anticipated and more.

There was the time I’ve learned almost the entire first half of Hamilton.

There was the time I got to vote and say who I wanted the next POTUS to be.

There was the time Madelyn, Stephanie, Zach, and I saw THE FREAKING 1975 and it was everything I’ve wanted in my life.

There was the time I paid off my credit card.

There was the day when I realized that nothing in my life at the moment could be much better – that my job is swell, my friends are amazing, my family is supportive, my church is fantastic, and my life is so, so (please forgive the cliche) blessed.

 

I think if I’ve taken anything away from this year, it’s this: love big. Love more than you think you can. Make memories but make sure you’re doing it with people, because we have nothing if we don’t have each other. Compliment too heavily, use too many superlatives, get too excited about what’s happening in someone else’s life. Document the highlights of your year on instagram if that’ll help you remember, or make a note in your phone and write down every bit of good news you hear. Compliment someone’s jacket. Tell them they’re the best cook/waiter/barista/architect/banker/realtor/lawyer/manager/cashier you know. Be genuine AND be way too positive for comfort. Make everyone who runs into you feel like a million bucks. Don’t waste an interaction with someone.

On our birthdays, we live in a little bubble of happiness and joy and belovedness, and it feels sometimes like it’s only gonna last for a little while, but by God (and I mean by God) we can make other people live in that bubble if we:

  1. choose to live every day with an outward perspective – instead of focusing on our own struggles, we can choose to ask people questions about what’s happening in their life and how we can alleviate that struggle
  2. choose to realize every day that we have everything we need to live a godly life – that the affirmation and significance that we so desperately crave are already given to us by Jesus.

 

I’m wondering if this next one might just be the best year of my life.

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