twenty six(teen).

i never wrote about my birthday. about twenty six.

i guess i didn't feel like talking about it. writing about it. (over) thinking about it.

the first half was a struggle. a mess of trying and failing and continuously cutting myself on the pieces of my life as i attempted to put it back together again.

the second half felt like freedom. like i could breathe again.

twenty six was breaking ground.

so many people are saying "bye felicia" to twenty sixteen and not looking back. it was the worst, they'll say (among other things). for me, though, it was the best worst. i think this past year (and some change), being twenty six + twenty sixteen, is a place i'll always come back to.

it was the year i learned who i am, in a way that feels shocking to consider i hadn't known, not really, up until this point. it shifted, i think, when i read pastor steven furtick's unqualified, and started to describe myself by saying "i am..." through the lens of the I AM. which feels obvious and ground breaking at the same time.

it was the year i learned closure does not come from another person. that we are all responsible for our own selves. what we think and say and do. what we believe, about ourselves and about other people. what we carry with us and what we set free. we get to decide those things.

it was the year i read and listened and learned about politics. to the point where i have an opinion, and i know what i'm talking about. (but, the likelihood that i'll ever choose to talk about it is pretty slim.)

it was the year i learned the value of taking care of myself. of listening, and responding, to my body. of saying "no" and resting. of saying "yes" to things that typically give me social anxiety. of drinking more water. of going to the chiropractor and practicing better posture. of investing in (and learning about) essential oils.

it was the year i learned how to say things out loud. to speak truth over myself. to be honest and vulnerable. to say "yes please" and accept grace (upon grace).

it was the year i learned "not enough" is not real. that loving another nephew wasn't a matter of how to make room for more, but that it already exists. that "i'm possible."

it was the year i learned how to be still, and what happens when you lift empty hands in worship. when you stop wondering how to have faith and realize it lives in the space where you no longer leave room for "plan b."

i keep thinking about march.

i keep writing and deleting, searching for the right words to make it sound clean and pretty. but march was neither of those things.

march felt like the worst part of everything. it wasn't "rock bottom" in the sense that it was the lowest i'd ever gone, situationally, but it was in the sense that it was the deepest i'd ever been inside myself. to the part of me that's the most honest and raw and asks, "is god really good? because this doesn't look good."

it was a pretty uncomfortable place to find myself in. startling, to realize that question was hidden inside me. but, after months of treading water, thinking what i was doing was called faith, i was exhausted. i can't do this anymore, i thought.

what am i missing? faith is not supposed to be like this.

looking back, it all feels so obvious. and yet, it's so easy to forget. jesus called peter out to walk on the water, not to fend for himself and grow weary, treading water.

i don't think anyone has the right words to describe what happens when you choose to believe god is good, in spite of everything else. when you choose to believe this thing is true, for you. when you choose to build your life upon this foundation, and live through this lens of trusting, not that everything happens for a reason, but that it all has value. that in the end, it all measures up to something good.

march was the breakthrough, when everything shifted from struggle to freedom.

i keep coming back to it. partly because there is so much beauty in that tension, and partly because i didn't understand it. part of me just wanted to see march through this new lens, to make sense of what happened and where god was while i was being pushed to my very core.

i know sometimes we don't get those answers, but i kept coming back to it, turning it over in my head.

recently, i remembered that time when my nephew was first learning to walk. knowing he couldn't quite do it by himself, he would grab our hands and pull us along, through the kitchen and into the dining room, circling back to the living room.

when we'd let go and encourage him to take steps on his own, he would hesitate and look from face to face. "you can do it!" we'd say, cheering and waving our hands. and when he fell, inevitably, we'd help him back up and let go, once again.

"it's okay! you can do it!"

i think, maybe, march was like learning to walk. or rather, the part near the end, where no one held my hand anymore and i was the only one who didn't know how close i was.

i think god was with me in march, but i took his hands-off approach with confusion, instead of hearing his encouragement. i think he was right beside me, cheering me on.

come on. you can do it.

my friend mal wrote this instagram caption a while ago and i wanted to clap my hands together when i read it.

i've learned that the hard conversations are the best ones. not because they're easy or they're fun, but because they force depth and trust and truth. lie says that they break and they cut but really they bind and they stick and they heal.

i've thought about this a lot, but never enough to wrap words around it quite like she did. i think it's true, but i also think hard things can break you down and cut you apart if you let them. or, if you let them, they can make you stronger. but you have to keep pushing through.

they say the best way out is through.

twenty six(teen) was like a hard conversation. it was messy and uncomfortable, but it brought healing and growth. and i can't help but be thankful for it, a little more than i am thankful it's over.

(speaking of instagram.)

the highlights

purchasing art
having faith
drinking coffee
meeting jack
laughing with luca
writing in sharpie
seeing needtobreathe
breaking the french press
getting another sister