Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: The Year This Nerd Learned to Trust

Oh, 2016... what a roller coaster year it was. I had so many lows but the highs were what made this year and what I went through worthwhile. Who knew that the lessons I learned during Lent -- on controlling my temper, doing things in moderation, rearranging priorities, letting go of perfection, and, finally, on increasing my trust in God -- would help me grow throughout the year, in a big way. Everything from the mess our former building manager left to being completely aimless for a while only helped me grow closer to the Lord.

The reoccurring theme for me this year was learning to let go and trust God wholeheartedly, even when I couldn't see the end of the tunnel in certain situations. I had to face my fears and deal with doubts I was having regarding my vocations. It took a lot of patience and prayer to get through some of the most difficult times. Taking big decisions to prayer was what kept me sane this year.

I went through a long period of spiritual dryness which began during the summer and didn't end until about early October. In the middle of that dryness, I was able to forgive some of the worst offenses ever done to me. The low point was falling into depression in late summer when I was emotionally vulnerable after recognizing signs that I was in friendships (yes, plural) that were not good for me or for the other person involved. I almost shut down this blog when I was at the lowest point in my depression but I'm glad that I stuck it out and continued to write. I actually still dealt with letting go of friendships up until a couple of days ago. I'm happy to report that it ended well. I still pray for these people and I have absolutely no ill will towards them because of the good they brought into my life but God helped me see why it was better to go our separate ways.

During the first half of the year, I had to fall back to half-time in grad school before I had to leave it completely. I ended up returning to finish my second Bachelor's degree in a different field (speech pathology) and am now about halfway through the program. I absolutely loved my time in grad school because I immersed myself in Biblical Theology but God knows why I wasn't meant to finish the Master's degree in it. For a couple of weeks during the summer, I considered letting both paths go and return to my former life but I saw why it wouldn't have been a good idea. I'm happy with the path I'm on now and I can see why this is where God wants me to be.

As for the other vocation, I "dated" myself... meaning I got to know myself better. Accepting that I'm a highly sensitive person really helped me avoid stimulus that would've made my anxiety levels go through the roof and, I believe, helped me avoid panic attacks throughout the year... which came in handy when I began to become more social in the second of the year. Yes, my mother still brings up the fact that I'm still unmarried. I'm still keeping my ninja status in this area but I will say that I'm very happy about how the year is ending on this front and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings.

As for my health, I had a lot of ups and downs. This summer was especially hard. I had to deal with the return of anemia as well as a kidney infection and an eventual acute kidney injury. Palpitations and heart worries were something I dealt with for months during the second half of the year. At the beginning of the year, I felt like I was too busy for self-care but I ended up embracing it as the year ended. Unplugging and quieting the world during Lent was amazing but something I didn't do again during the year. Sure, I had moments in which I was able to remember why it's so important to step away from social media but I still didn't do it as much as I would've liked. A continued goal for 2017? I think so!

One of the biggest fears I worked through was offending people and pushing them away with my thoughts. I'd been accused of "too pious" in how I looked at things but I knew that I had to write what I felt and how I looked at things from a more "conservative" side. I started by telling y'all why I threw away my Meg Cabot books. At the end of the year, I was able to finally push those fears aside and allow myself to post what I wanted. Post about mental and emotional purity that a lot of people had a massive cow over, anyone? Yes, it took almost the entire year before I made the big change, but, hey, I was able to do it. We'll just have to see what I have the guts to write about next year. ;)

My biggest failure this year as, undoubtedly, how little I went to Mass. I stunk at going to Mass, especially with everything I had going on throughout the year. I actually teared up yesterday while praying the Rosary, because I still feel like a failure and a horrible Catholic for not going to Mass. Something always came up and then I second guessed whether I should've tried harder to get to Mass. Biggest goal in 2017? Get my tush to Mass! It was my main petition during the St. Andrew Christmas novena for a reason. Oh, if you're wondering... I was able to attend Mass twice during Advent. I didn't go to Mass last weekend for Christmas. The reasons for my poor attendance? I was sick and in pain... I couldn't breathe and felt too dizzy/lightheaded to drive (and no one else in this house drives)... I was having stomach problems... sometimes I even had random panic attacks. Yes, all legitimate but still, something I need to find a priest and talk to him about since I haven't had a spiritual director in over a year. Thankfully, I got to Mass a bit more often, a big reason for that was because of the encouragement I received from the young adult group I joined in October.

Looking back at everything, it seems like things came full circle in most areas of my life. I debated and rejected returning to the career path I had been on prior to my reversion. The summer began with a lot of trips to the hospital, just like the summer that I reverted, only this year they didn't go beyond the summer (follow-ups not included). I find it funny that this all happened because I celebrated a decade since my reversion to the faith this year. Bonus: I also returned to my alma mater to take my proctored exams. Who saw that coming? Not me!

God truly blessed me this year. He kept surprising me when I feared things wouldn't get better. After learning to let go of my need to control things and surrender my selfishness, things changed for me. My life changed. I was even called "bubbly" for the first time in over a decade... and it was a genuine and positive compliment. Resigning myself to do God's will, even when it's incredibly difficult and I'm petrified of not being strong enough to endure the trials, was the best decision I made this year. I'm sure a combination of what I learned during Lent in addition to the graces I received during the 54-day Rosary novena were what helped me mature and grow in my relationship with God. I hope to continue seeing its fruit into 2017 and beyond.

To those who've stuck with me all year and those who joined my journey during the year, I wanted to say "thank you." Your prayers, encouraging words, and challenges (done in a civil manner) have helped make me the person I am today. Who I was at the beginning of the year is someone I barely recognize... and I'm grateful for all the positive changes you've all helped me embrace. :) Here's to another year and (dare I dream?) better 2017! Verso l'alto! ;)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless you all in 2017! :D


A Secular Franciscan said...

Sounds like a rough year in so many ways. But what come's through amid all the struggles, self-doubts, self-recrimination is that your faith is strong, and it tell me if you keep trusting in God you will find what you need. I will keep you in my prayers - and I will continue to read, for I enjoy your honesty and insights. Pax et bonum

Emmy Cecilia said...

Thank you, A Secular Franciscan. :D I hope you have a blessed 2017!