My fall semester of my last year as an undergraduate at UCM is over. Done. Finito. The moment I turned in my last paper I felt the air rush out of my lungs as a weight lifted off my shoulders. I was done with this semester. After that I felt the exhaustion hit me and I let myself nap (again). I had done it. I had powered through 20 units (though let’s be honest, I really didn’t learn anything from my classes) and a full-time job*.
While the semester was probably my most successful academically, this was almost my most successful semester regarding my own personal growth.
I learned about how to take down my walls and engage with the hard aspects of my life.
I learned to be honest with others.
I learned to be brave.
I learned about the beauty of vulnerability.
I learned to validate my feelings.
I learned how to genuinely care well for others.
I learned to forgive.
I learned to trust people.
I learned to value my self worth.
I learned to be open with my friends.
I learned to fight for people.
I learned to fight for myself.
I learned that I am worthy of being loved.
I learned how to hear more from God.
I learned how to fall in love.
This season in life centered around friendships. I learned a lot about my own independence as a woman when I was in England, and as a balance I learned about my dependence on community in the past 4 months.
I need people. I’ve always been a people person, but I’ve spent my whole life running away from deep relationships. A year ago me had let people in her life to only a certain extent, but the present me has nosedived into complete and utter vulnerability. It’s terrifying.
The people in my life now know more than anyone has ever known about me, EVER. (They highkey know too much, and they have to stick around or I’m gonna have to take them out… jk? lol). But really though, when I started pulling my crap out from behind my walls I had to put them in the light to air out. The skeletons in my closet are all getting a tan from the sunlight I’ve been shining down on them.
I think I’ve pretty much gotten over the fear though. The last few weeks have been nothing but fear and insecurity, but after talking to my loved ones and letting God reign over that part of my life… I think I can honestly say I’m good. There will always be fear, there will always be insecurity, but I think I can proudly stretch out in the sun with all of my scars and bruises and be at peace with all I have come to be.
It also helps that I have a really beautiful community that has sprouted out around me.
-from here until I say PEACHES AND CREAM x3 is a giant TLDR unless you’re a person mentioned… so unless you have like 15 minutes to spare probably skip ahead?-
Jelly, steadfast Jelly… friend of 6 going on 7 years. This woman will be my Maid of Honor, no doubt. She has stood by me and fought with me through everything. We’ve run through life together and our foundation has been built with time, intentionality, and Christ. She is my best complement, the woman I can always adventure with. The one I can talk forever with. Jelly has taught me a lot about what it looks like to care for people, but she has also taught me a lot about myself. Some quote said something about how a good friend holds a mirror up to your life, and she has definitely done that for me. I hope I have also been able to do the same for her. She’s the first person I learned to fully trust with everything, and I am so blessed that God has given me her as a partner in crime.
Kaye. Dang, this girl and I have been through a lot together… but we’ve grown and are growing. This woman has taught me the freedom in adventuring, the joy in music (thanks to her I have like 5 billion playlists on Spotify), and the comfort in learning to process and think through life. Kaye has been so good at loving on others and I admire her deeply for that. I’ve learned a lot about honesty from her, which is the trait I have come to value the most in this season, so I am SOOOOO grateful for the parts she has played in my life. I love food runs with her, I love praying with her, I love talking about Jesus with her, I love freaking out over books and Gilmore Girls with her.
Heather, ah, my craziest friend. This one has made me laugh so hard that I had to relearn how to breathe again properly. We’re the two people in the corner squealing over cute things. She understands the parts of me that hold planning and organization dearly. She has taught me to be firm, to always stand by what’s right. Heather has just been so good at reminding me of what redemptive love looks like. She reminds me of grace and forgiveness, and has made me feel so well loved… especially this last week (she knows what I’m referring to). She reminded me of what bravery looked like, and I am so grateful for her. I love movies and books and girly things with her. She just gets it. She always has.
Connie… the one I know I’m going to start crying over. I don’t think she knows how much I appreciate her, and I need to tell her in person. She was there for me last semester when I had felt like my world was crumbling. We were the only women at DIVE for the longest time, so she heard and spoke into a lot of my heartache that last year. And even now as we drew closer together… she has been a very important voice in my life. It’s actually crazy because she says the exact same things my mom tells me sometimes, it’s uncanny. I love her advice and her analogies, she sees things so differently than I do and I need someone like her to speak into my life.
John, I am so surprised by him. He was also one of the people that walked through last semester with me. He gave me hope with people, he made me smile again. He made me feel welcomed and seen and included and I will be forever grateful for his very presence in my life. This semester we stuck like glue, and I am so warmed by how quickly he and I have learned to trust each other. He teaches me that vulnerability is worth it. His gentleness, his genuine heart, and his jokes make even the most bleary days bearable.
Cory, the newest addition to my male community… I was so surprised by him too. My friendship with Cory went from 0 to 100 really fast. We went from one intentional day of getting to know each other to meeting weekly so we could catch up on life. He’s such an important part of my process, plus HE JUST GETS ME. Cory understands the parts of my that care for people… but not just that he gets the importance of caring, but he understands how I care. We’re super big romantics and we love grand gestures. PLUS, he understands my love for getting to know strangers and he appreciates hospitality. WHAT A FRIEND! I’ll never forget the moments where he just straight up grabbed my hands and prayed over me. I remember crying the first time because I was so surprised. He’s so good at intentionality and affirmation. I think he’s one of the only people I 100% receive affirmation from without hesitation because he has been so good at not only saying it, but showing it. HE JUST GETS ME.
Jen. JEN… This girl… I don’t know where to start. This girl and I fused together really fast, like unbelievably fast (if Cory and I went from 0-100, Jen and I went from 0-1,000). She’s my newest friend, but also one of my dearest. She’s my accountability because she is literally the most honest and “hard-assed” (language, sorry) woman I know (which is funny because she doesn’t seem hard-assed but she really is and it’s just so well balanced by her gentleness). This girl and I could talk for hours… days even. She also brings out the most childlike, energetic, sunny side of me. We’re so extra together, but I love it. It’s really funny though (and she hasn’t heard this yet, I think)… but one of the reasons I first reached out to her was because God was nudging me towards her. What I thought would be maybe one deep, really intentional and good conversation turned into a whirlwind friendship that I’m sure will last us our entire lives.
Daniel. HEH. We’ve known each other for two years and have somehow just now come together. I wouldn’t change a thing though, because I think we needed to be where we are now in order for us to work. This man has been a key player in pushing the parts of me I kept hidden behind walls into the light. He was the catalyst that started Project Tear Down Her Walls. Daniel and I are complete opposites, but I think that’s what’s great about us. He sharpens me, and he pushes me out of my comfort zones. His walk with Christ is a constant reminder to me to not ever be content with where I’m at. With him, I am always reminded to keep pursuing Christ and His commission to us. I’ll say this out of a place of plain honesty and not just cheesiness… one of the biggest reasons I’ve come as far as I have now is because of Daniel, and I am so grateful to have someone like that in my life.
I know I’m missing people. My coworkers in the SMP program are like family to me, and have been a huge part of the joy I have now. The boys at Beckmen make me smile like no other. Kiya has been steadfastly beautiful in my life. Jason has just been plain steadfast and caring (even though I won’t say that to his face), and I miss him like crazy. JP and I are reconciled fully now, so that has helped redeem community for me. Joe for being a friend despite the distance. Omee and our vulnerable talk. Josh has been really encouraging in my writing and in my life in general, so I am so glad I get to catch up with him every now and again. Clarissa… THAT GIRL IS JUST GREAT OKAY? Mia has been my adventure partner, and I want to go do life with her again already…
Who else, WHO ELSE??? I don’t know, there are so many people in my life. My heart is literally overflowing with gratefulness and joy. I can hardly contain it…
PEACHES AND CREAM PEACHES AND CREAM PEACHES AND CREAM
So here is the thing that I’ve learned this semester. Yes… all I need is God, everything I have ever needed is in Christ. I am learning to fall in love with Him deeply… But wow, wow do I need community. I was foolish to ever think I could do this alone. They’ve guided me, they’ve shaped me. They’ve listened to my celebrations and heartaches, they’ve pointed me back to Christ when I’ve lost myself in the world, and they’ve reminded me of my commitments. I am a better woman because of them. These people have made my life so bright, and I am so blessed to have them.
Is this what it’s like to have a forever community? Are these the people I will walk through life with? Gosh, I hope so.
I remember the fear I had of being vulnerable… and guys… guys it is scary and terrifying. The people I mentioned above could very easily hurt me, but I trust them with my life. But wow… wow is it worth it. I’m dancing with joy. Even when it’s hard, I am still at peace. We don’t love each other perfectly, but because we love God and are all (“all” being my super intimate community) running towards Him in some degree, we are trying to love each other perfectly. I look forward to walking into eternity with these people (hopefully with new friends in the link as well).
I’m grinning. My heart is in the hands of God. I’ve given God my relationships and I’ve given God these people. In return He has reassured me that the things I have given Him are safe. I no longer bear the burden of trying to work this out on my own strength. Perfect love casts out fear, and I am learning and trying to walk into 2017 with less fear and more peace. Thank you, God, for providing me with… everything I guess.
Look at me, I’m growing… Finally 😀
-Soli Deo Gloria