Today, I sat having lunch with some ladies from my work who I barely know. One of them is well into her fifties, with brown short hair and laugh lines around her eyes. She said that she is not even the same person she was when she was twenty-five. Then she she sat silent for a second, holding her fork in her hand a bit before putting it down and admitted she still hasn’t figured out who she is. I nodded my head in agreement and shared the wisdom I have gained in my humble twenty-nine years. While I could say it is wisdom that I have gained without help, I would be lying. This was wisdom shared with me about a year and a half ago, but of which I merely filed away to be digested later. This year I see it. I believe it. And I want to share it.
We may never figure out who we “are” and that is okay. We are who we are today. We are constantly growing and changing as we experience life and its joys and trials. I am not who I was when I was ten. I am not who I was when I was seventeen. And I am certainly not who I was when I myself was twenty-five. And that’s okay. If anything, it’s actually a blessing. Because for me, I believe I am better than who I used to be. And while I still have much more growing to do before I reach my ideology of what I hope to be one day, I am one step closer everyday because of God’s grace and teaching—how he uses the experiences of my life to shape me and mold me.
My mom told me that when you go through hot water in your life you can act like one of three things: carrots, eggs, or coffee. You can get soft and weak, you can get hard and not allow yourself to be vulnerable, or you can change the flavor of the hot water. No matter what, we will go through joys and sorrows in our lives. God promises we will. But he also promises that if we lean on him, He will continue to help me change for the better and grow strong.
I knew last year when I wrote my New Years Resolutions on my previous blog that this year would be a year of change. Well, change has slowly been brewing and it has overflowed this month. This year, I was laid off from Oceanside High School; searched for new work; found a new job at a high school in Temecula; traveled throughout the summer to Utah, Nevada, and Florida; started my daily commute to Temecula and back, fell in love with Owen Hemsath; married him Vegas style a couple of weeks ago; and now we are planning out the rest of our year together. Last year, this time, I would never have guessed I’d be here. I knew Owen was gorgeous and smart on our first date September of ’08 but had no idea he would be my future husband until this year.
But I haven’t been the only one blessed this year. My friend Freda is pregnant with her third son, and my mom just made number two in top sales people at her new job. My cousin Breanna was reunited with her biological family after 29 years of separation. Just within the last month, my good friend Merideth is now engaged to her long-time boyfriend Moe; my other good friend Chandra is now in love with an old flame from her youth and for the first time in years, imagining herself happily married. My other good friend Lael has also met someone as well and is falling in love. Yes, this year has been a wonderful year of positive change for myself and so many people who I love.
On the negative side, this year has brought some hardships for so many—I have friends and family losing their homes, losing their jobs, losing relationships, or filing for bankruptcy. I have friends and family suffering from health problems—heart conditions and surgeries, crone’s disease, severe infections, lymph node cancer, and memory loss. I know some who have had deaths. From good friends, like my Mother’s friend Letty, to deaths in my friends’ families—- from fathers and mothers, to nephews, to even children. Loved ones lost due to health conditions, accidents, and now the Tsunami in Samoa. My heart aches for the emotional pain so many of my friends and family who have suffered from change this year for the worse. I pray that God use their suffering for His glory as he promises in His word. I know how hard our trials can sometimes seem. Last year, was my year for suffering—so many changes in my life including an old friend committing suicide. And I know there were nights when I cried in the darkness in the middle of the night, asking God why. Why did he allow this or that to happen? I clung to him for strength and found peace and refuge under his wing. I grew closer to him as I leaned on him to help me get through my trials. And in reflection, I look back and see that because of that, it was worth my suffering.
Isn’t it strange how as people, we often seem to only lean and rely on God during the hard times, yet so quick to forget him when things are going well in our lives? If he can bring us peace and strength during the hard times, I know that he can add so much more joy to our lives during the good times. And without those hardships and trials, how do we learn to grow? How do we learn humility? How do we learn compassion? How do we start ministries and non-profit organizations that reach out to help others? How do we learn to trust in God? We need those hard times even though we don’t want them. Trials inspire hope. And hope feeds love. And love heals and regenerates and gives birth to joy. We cannot have joy without suffering. And God uses both to lead us to Him. He understands both, as he has experienced both when Christ came down to show us the way to Him.
This year has been a year of change for me and the year is ending in joy. I pray that next year is another year of joy for me as it seems the last five years have had one stressor after another. But if not, I will have Christ here with me, and my wonderful husband who loves the Lord too with all his heart. I’ll have my son, to teach and to love. I’ll have my friends and family to listen to and be loved by. And with that—with God, with family, and with friends, I know I can get through anything. I pray the same for you all too.