Sophomore Year Almost Killed Me.

It’s been far too long since I’ve written. Usually silence is not a good thing—the few times in my life that I’ve been left speechless it has either been due to the overwhelming beauty of a miracle or the absurdity of crushing heart ache.  I’ve been lucky enough to experience more miracles than heart ache in my short trips around the sun, but still…the heart ache is there and it is real.

Healing takes time and it is, without a doubt, a process that feels never ending. In fact, I’m not sure that it ever actually ends.  It can be daunting to think I will be changing and evolving for the rest of my years this side of heaven, but it is also excruciatingly painful to think that I may stay the same as I currently am.

And that’s when I have to pause and ask myself—how am I currently? When I lazily scan through the pages of my prayer journal, I see a lot of gratitude and thanks, but I also see a lot of pleading and begging—asking God to please fix this problem or that, help me overcome this ache in my chest…the one that some call a “guilty conscious” or our “moral guide”…but I just call it my soul.  I love, love, LOVE Michigan and I LOVE the School of Music.  I love what I’m studying and I love the work that we do here.  Don’t misunderstand – not for one moment. I am not inherently unhappy. I am just achey…all over.  At this point in the semester, I mean that both literally and figuratively seeing as being a musician is, in a sense, a very physical sport.

My soul feels restless. Everything around me is falling into place, but here I sit—discontent and on top of that, angry at myself for feeling discontent. 

This school year has held its fair share of disappointments, no doubt, but it has also contained a plethora of hidden blessings (and many which have not been so hidden). From new friends to new places to a growing Tribe. I have felt love in so many places where it did not previously exist.  I have been able to feel so at home in my little corner of this world and I have been overwhelmed with gratitude that I have had the pleasure of loving my little one day in and day out…

 

I have had so many new experiences which have challenged me, pushed me, and forced me to grow. My comfort zone has been expanded and my voice has been raised – not in anger, but in confidence and enthusiasm for what I love and believe in.

My Tribe…thank the Lord God Almighty for my tribe.  And thank the Lord that our hearts are ever expanding and can hold and contain so many souls and so much love.  My heart has been burst open and brought alive in Christ thanks to so many wonderful people who I’ve come to love and to cherish – a church family filled with forgiveness, love, grace, and arms that are always open! I could NOT have survived this year without the direction, teaching, and love that I felt from this family of mine! How lucky I feel to have such a strong support system between my tribe back in VA and my tribe here in MI, I KNOW that if (let’s be real—WHEN) I fall, there will be people surrounding me with open arms, open hearts, and open ears—ready to listen, hold up, and love me with all they’ve got. If THAT isn’t a miracle—then I don’t know what is!

I am one lucky girl, and that is something I know and truly believe to be 100% true. But that doesn’t fix or automatically stop the pain that happens in our day to day lives.  We’ve all been there – that place where we can look around us and see how blessed we are, but still we feel restless and unsettled.  We feel like something deep inside of us is just a little off balance or a little off kilter. It feels wrong to even mention it or acknowledge it because, “Look at me, I’m so blessed. How could I ever be unhappy?! Things are grand.”

But here I sit. I am one of the most blessed people in the world, and yet I feel like this year almost killed me.  Not physically (maybe a little bit, physically) but I’m speaking about my soul.  It took everything inside of me to keep my soul from being crushed. And the worst part is that I don’t even know why.

I just know that when I crawl in bed at the end of a -far too- long day, I can rattle off a long list of gratitude’s and things I am thankful for, but when my eyes slowly shut, I feel a tug inside my stomach—something still feels so…heavy.

This, my friends, is the weight of depression. It bears down on you without any warning and it makes it hard to breathe.  If it doesn’t manage to physically harm you, it will still suffocate your soul.  It zaps all of your energy and enthusiasm and it steals your joy.  I can look around and list off blessings and triumphs and gratitudes. I can see that I’m surrounded by loved ones and friends and people who care—yet at the end of the day, I still somehow feel alone and fragile; weak and depleted.

I go to class. I study for tests. I get decent grades. I show up for life (most of the time). I seek out joy, comfort, friendships, and love, but it’s all so exhausting.  I am out of energy by the end of every.single.day. 

So, I had a good year. Yes. I had a wonderful year and I learned so much! I am so thankful and I know that I am beyond blessed! I am grateful for all my friends who stuck by me and for all the new people I met and now love. Words can’t express my joy and adoration I have for my new church family and those who have graciously taken me under their wing and quickly become a part of my tribe!  I love so many people and I have witnessed so many miracles. I have a pup who keeps me going day in and day out and I am pursuing my dreams. But even though I had a good year….this year almost killed me. I am utterly exhausted and I am so thankful that classes are wrapping up, that a break is on the horizon, that the sun will be shining again soon, and that I will get to spend some time unwinding and recharging with my favorite pal.

I am also grateful for one thing in particular: God’s grace is unwavering and His love is never ending.  When the chaos of the world swirls around me He is unfaltering…always steady even in the strongest of storms.

In the book, “She Reads Truth” Amanda Williams says, “That heavy quilt of circumstances was real and it was stifling, but the gospel was always true, even when the heaviness covered me.” And that’s the beauty of it all – the gospel is not meant for one moment in time, it’s meant for EVERY moment. When our lives feel out of control, He is still in control. When we don’t like what we’re feeling and we don’t know how to cope with it, we can rest in the fact that He has gone before us and felt the exact same things we have.  When we feel like there’s no way that we can possibly keep going, we must remember that He is the author of our story and it isn’t over until He says that it is.

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These are the truths that have helped me make my way through this year…this amazingly beautiful and heart wrenching year.  There have been highs and there have been lows, but no matter where I was in life, God was there—leading me, guiding me, loving me, and surrounding me in His mighty love and strength.

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“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”
Nelson Mandela

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