A new life is possible
My head tells me it’s dumb to attribute so much significance to a number- but the rest of me already feels like a burden’s been lifted having to never be in 2009 again.
I suppose 2009 was still beautiful, but in a kind-of painful sort of way. For most of it, I felt isolated.
Last night’s New Years’ Eve party was actually really fun, even though I was the driver, and two exes were present. I got back at 5, slept at 6, and woke up at 1. Still, it feels like a great start.
When August started, I moved to Isla Vista. I became a first time renter and got to live the life of taking care of my own place. It has its ups and downs but mostly ups. My roommates were a major improvement over last year and I’m thankful. I started summer school. I also befriended a lot of people at Hope Community Church where I started going as a stranger in the spring. God would end up using them tremendously to help me move forward without them even knowing it.
However, loneliness was also setting in. I started realizing most of the people I thought I was close to were very temporary friends. I also didn’t have much in common with the people I spent the most time with in Santa Barbara, and while I have some good friendships, I was lacking the bonds I used to hold super valuable. This was needed though, because it drove me a lot closer to God.
Halloween must’ve been a low point. I say this in spite of my brilliant Hawaiian zombie costume. I remember having Andrew over and even though we went out to try and see what fun antics we would run into, I ultimately felt like I didn’t have much of a life to show to him.
Also, I was being bogged down by so much random crap that kept popping into my life. From a speeding ticket, to getting ripped off of a ton of money by a shady car mechanic. It was all starting to add up. My car alone gave me so much trouble, it seemed like at least once every other month. I’m very thankful though, I at least have a car.
One of the guys in my ropes course was my buddy Sam, and I was impressed by his approach to his faith. He introduced me to “Kick Back Church” which he held in his backyard on Sunday nights. He lives at the Snow Club house, usually known for its parties, and Kick Back Church was indeed a cross between a kickback and a church, where we could both have wine and barbecue and share our testimonies. It amazed me, because I heard such real testimonies from people who have gone through crazy stuff. It also showed me the many ways God can be present, and reminded me he usually doesn’t work through very righteous people and elegant churches, but through really broken imperfect people.
This goes hand in hand with my Church’s motto- Perfect People not Allowed. Hope continued to help me grow. My pastor gave me some great personal advice and kept reminding me that disappointment is temporary, but hope isn’t. He gave a series on moving past hang-ups, and it was there where I was finally able to let all the strain from earlier in the year go.
I think that’s where my heart started preparing to open itself to the fact that things can change. That I didn’t have to be so isolated. That life could be full of good things, connection was possible, and that a more abundant life awaited.
Pastor Jim kept pushing the quote that God loves us the way we are, but a little too much to stay that way. I’m not sure where that quote came from originally, and I’ve heard it a lot, but I only started to internalize it through the end of the year.
I realized that so much of that isolation that I felt was a shedding off of my old life, one that didn’t really fit for new times. I realized that I was just on the cusp of being able to jump into new adventures, but I needed to do so undistracted. I needed to know clearly that God was the giver of every good adventure, and that they were all meant to help draw me closer to him. More and more in awe.
I felt myself encounter moments where I felt more and more open to letting go of the old and embracing the change
I found that even though there were many times where I was alone, I could learn how to enjoy those moments and to still pursue unlikely adventures in those spaces. That led to me playing baseball again in a very laid back recreation class. I attended unlikely events like a Philippe Petit lecture and a Sounds concert, learning how time spent by myself didn’t necessarily mean I was lonely. Towards the end of the year I started finding excitement in things that were honestly superficial, but that I could sense that the joy was significant. I lit up as the Phillies started to pursue their second World Series and fell just shy. I had an absolutely refreshing time back in San Diego for Christmas break, attending an old friend’s concert and discovering truth in some great reads.
All that to say, I’m now more than ready to start embracing what is to come in the year ahead. Just by being willing to pursue life some more, even if I’m alone, has led me to at least start looking at some possible travel opportunities to New York, Turkey, and Italy, and if it’s a year full of that sort of thing, I’ll be glad. Nothing’s set in stone yet, though, and that’s okay.
It simply feels like it’s gonna be a good year. And this is more than just a hunch. I think this genuinely feels like hope. This is what hope feels like.
A clean blank slate where good things will one day appear if we simply allow ourselves to notice.
I’m so ready.