It’s the annual birthday eve look back at the last year.
Here’s what I was thinking this time last year about how I wanted the past 365 days to go:
Fall in love—a deeply painful sort detached from rewards and seeking what’s in it for you, that seeks the other’s highest good, that draws on divine courage and strength to execute, that embraces vulnerability, and is not tethered to emotions but makes good on commitments.
Flip your life for justice—be open to radically loving and serving those who can’t repay you and being a voice for people who are marginalized.
Host more—you used to do this all the time. Open your home to others!
Number your days—Figure out how to best use your time, who and what to invest in, how to make sure you aren’t squandering your days on things that won’t last.
Don’t be strong—embrace weakness—delight in it even.
Relax. Dance. Learn. Serve. Hope.
Fall in love
Guys, so much love happened this year.
I think I may have had romantic love in mind when I wrote this, so in that sense, this didn’t happen; four first dates does not a romance make. But, if you just look at how I loved people this year generally, it was a year full of victories and growth. I’d go so far as to say that I’ve never loved better.
Trying times and tough relationships can either bring out the best or the worst of you. This was a year filled with hard people to love. Four things highlight this well: my job, what I believed to be an irreparably damaged friendship, a strong dislike of a person, and an estranged friend from six years ago.
As my work environment got more negative, I really had to fight for love. In this case it was a love that was untethered from emotion. I may have had anger in my heart towards how I had been treated by some people, but I prayed for their good and did not rejoice in their struggles. I prayed for the success of colleagues’ work who had made mine more difficult.
Last October, I had a friendship that was coming apart at the seems. Someone asked me if I thought future friendship with them was possible and what it might look like and I saw no path to reconciliation. I was so hurt, things were so strained, and I was wearied from previous attempts at patching things up that I was ready to let it die. It just so happened that this person, in a group setting, opened up about something they were struggling with and for two weeks after that, the first thing I did in the morning and last thing I did before bed was send them encouragement. A couple of mornings, I was out in California and I set my alarm for 3 or 4 AM so I could send it first thing in the morning EST. Over that time, the anger melted away. I still felt hopeless about repairing the friendship but a few months later we decided to get brunch and attempt to resolve our conflict. We got everything out on the table and were able to move forward rebuilding our friendship. It literally felt like getting someone back from the dead. I can say honestly today that it is one of the closest, funnest, and most special friendships I have in part because I fought for and it survived.
I met someone a while ago who I just did not enjoy being around. This person rubbed me the wrong way and I avoided their company at all costs. A couple friends called me out on my lack of love, something I recognized myself was wrong. Not that I have to be a huge fan of everyone, I just disliked this person soo strongly it was unhealthy. I’m always up for a love challenge it seems so I sought them out to spend time together one-on-one and as people do, they shared something they were struggling with (am I just a sucker for struggling people?) with me. I went into encouragement mode and now this is a person whose company I greatly enjoy.
Lastly, I had a friend I was attached to at the hip back when I lived in Boston. When I moved to Seattle—long story short—we broke up. It was partly my fault partly hers. I felt bad about my part in it and over the following couple years I would occasionally send her emails asking for her friendship back. I missed her. She never replied. A few weeks ago, I received the first email from her I’d gotten in six years and the first line said: “I don’t even know what to do to convince you to even consider reinstating our friendship.” I didn’t even read further before emailing back, “I haven’t even read beyond the first sentence, but I’d love to be friends again, girl!” Such joy!
I definitely could have, and wanted to, do more with this. Noted for year 33. But year 32 featured more hosting than 31.
Around Christmas time, I had a small group of friends over for dinner and to watch Elf. I had a my former work-spouse, Rachel, over for dinner a couple of times. I had some people over for brunch on the 4th of July. I threw a housewarming party after I moved. I’m claiming this even though it wasn’t in my home, but I threw a birthday party for a friend this year as well as a going away party for two other friends.
Number your days:
The shortness of life was something that was already on my mind but the loss of grandmother in June propelled it back to the front of my thoughts over the summer and into the fall. She had dementia. This is part of the reason why remembering things has been so important to me; I’m terrified that I will forget all the awesome things I’ve experienced. I had previously toyed with the idea of maybe writing a memoir someday, even if just for myself so when I am old and have forgotten about the life I’ve lived I can relive it through reading about it and maybe get some joy from my experiences even if I don’t recognize that they are mine. I’ve kept a journal since middle school and have the ones from at least the last ten years with me here in DC.
Anyway, all of that has me thinking about how I spend my time, with whom, and a lot more about legacy—legacy at work, in friendships, in the Church—especially since I am somewhat doubtful that I will ever get married and have kids.
Flip life for justice
I learned a lot more about this. I read and bought books, I studied the Biblical aspects of this in a special program they offer through my church. But I’d say there’s a lot more that I could have done in this area.
For the next year, I want to continue to love well, to number my days, to host, to practice justice, and to embrace weakness but here are some things I’d like to add.
- Be a better steward of my finances: if anyone reading this has resources about this, send me a line. I’d love the help!
- Improve my writing: This is always on my mind, perhaps because I felt like I was starting at a deficit (as a music major I hadn’t had to write much). Given the recent feedback I got on my blog series on race, I’m motivated to continue improving my skills.
- Be more intentional in cultivating better relationships with my family members
- Learn more about Old Testament: I really like the OT and want to take some time to dig deeper.
- Read the books I have: I have in my possession 61 books that I have not read. My goal is to read 40 of them and write a review of half here.