Snapshot #1: I spent the morning of my twenty-fourth birthday curled up in my roommate's lap, crying. I had just gotten back from Haiti the night before, so we can maybe blame the culture shock? But it was more than that. My life was broken, in shambles, and I was desperately trying to put it all back together. It was the hilarious epitome of rom-com tragic, and it weighed on me with the heaviness of Shakespeare.
Snapshot #2: On Friday I turned twenty-five. My roommates woke me up with coffee and a honey-drizzled pastry, and a way-too-loud-for-7:30-in-the-morning chorus of "Happy Birthday". The day began with peals of laughter and pajama-clad snuggles. A completely different day than the one 365 days prior.
It's safe to say that the difference between snapshots 1 and 2 is this simple: at twenty-four, I thought I had to have everything under control. Emphasis on the part where it was my job for everything to be under control. At twenty-five, I am as footloose and fancy free as a child. Learning, for the first time, that not being in control feels infinitely better than the alternative.
If I could sum up all the lessons of twenty-four (THERE WERE SO MANY), I think it would come down to this: I am not driving the bus. Not because I can't (free will and all that), but because I've learned to surrender to my sweet Savior (*not perfectly and not always, but I'm learning the general gist). And in learning to surrender to Him, I have seen the beauty of His provision, grace, and peace. All of which move my heart to inexplicable joy, and I'm like OH IS THIS WHAT I'VE BEEN MISSING?
Life is a constant dance between discovery and flourishing. Heartache and happiness. Climbing and resting. Somewhere between all of those things, change happens. I think life is as cyclical as it is linear. Patterns repeat and seasons cycle through, but we're always moving forward. Always growing, either closer to heaven or further away from it.
When I stopped to get coffee on my way to birthday lunch, my twenty-three year old barista said, "Twenty-five? Oh wow. If I don't have all my shit together by the time I'm twenty-five, I'm just giving up."
I wanted to hug her and laugh. I didn't hug her. I did laugh. Sweet barista friend, if having one's shit together is an indication of success, then I have royally failed. But the last year of life has taught me that success cannot and should not be measured by what looks, to finite eyes, "together". There will never be a moment when all the right eggs are in all the right baskets. Never a lightbulb when you say, "Oh, I am SO TOGETHER." God and time and living don't work like that. You know? And there is nothing sweeter than the moment (or the year) when you realize "togetherness" is a pipe dream.
I'm thankful for the journey from twenty-four to twenty-five, for all the wildness and pain and joy of it. In 365 days' worth of daily plodding and decision making and surrendering everything changed. The Lord moved in ways that were obvious, and in ways that were not. And, like He promised, He worked everything together for my good and His glory.