But to be honest, this was the hardest year I have ever gone through. Let me recap the year for you. Settle in, because this is going to be long...
In January, I returned from a trip to Kansas City (like usual) and arrived back to find out that my mentor was leaving Willow in June. I was hurt, angry (at Willow, at God, at anything that walked by me), I was sad, not for me, but those in the program who only had a year or 2 years with the most powerful woman I know. I left for Bethel, my last intensive, and finished one of the hardest "papers" I have ever written...the statement of faith (if I ever get really ballsy, I'll post it). I also found out in January that my friend Vivian was moving to a magical place called Denver.
At the end of January, my grandmother had a stroke and I realized that this would be the year I would lose her. I would now be grandparent-less and my birthday buddy wouldn't be around any longer. When I returned from Bethel in February, I found out that the second most powerful woman in my life, Carol, would also be leaving Willow. In the midst of all the pain of leaving Elevate and moving into Oasis and Champions, Carol gave me space and the support I needed. She encouraged me to try new things, she listened deeply, cared deeply and shared an intimate part of my life with me. How the hell I would survive Willow without her and Sheryl would be tough. Only then I didn't know I wouldn't be at Willow past June either.
In March, the wonderful young woman I mentored for a year suffered a great lost, along with many people in our community. Laurie's death is unexplainable, but everyone affected still yearns for a way to connect more deeply with each other. I lost a job with Young Life, one that I desperately wanted, and still don't know why I didn't get it. My 25th birthday party was the best. I have never felt so loved with a group of people before and I may never experience that again, but I loved it. I made a decision to go to a Radius Retreat, bought a ticket with money I didn't have and simply wanted to get away...
In the midst of January/February/March, I had a conflict resolution that popped all my authority shit, and was one of the hardest leadership lessons I've ever gone through. It was a good learning lesson but never again. I learned that mistake once, I refuse to learn it again.
April started with me at a Radius retreat, learning the word cheeve and losing some weight thanks to boot camp. I came back from the retreat, after wrestling with the Trinity all weekend long, knowing that my next step would be Denver. I slowly started removing myself from ministry opportunities and began another cycle of grieving, saying good bye to my small group.
In May, we lost a leader and that was my second suicide in the year. 2 too many. It was a blow to our ministry, and our leaders responded in such a good way. But again, it brought up Laurie and everyone I lost to death over the years. My small group had our last official Friday morning meeting, and I wasn't ready for it. We sat in that room, crying, realizing what we had was special, that I wouldn't trade it for the world, that we've never experienced community in such a way before, and there is a slim chance we may never again. I began packing my room. I did no work (well, very little) for my last class of seminary. I came to Denver to look for an apartment and had a wake up call on what the community might look like when I get here.
In June, I said good bye to Willow, to my small group, to my community, to my life in Chicago. I set up intentional good byes with the people that really mattered to me, and felt like I ended well. I graduated from Bethel. I moved to Denver. And I began to realize how much I missed my community. I felt alone, distant, and an island in a city where I knew people. I couldn't understand it. I had no stability in my life, and all I wanted was someone, anyone to pursue me. I also began working "normal" hours, dressing up for work and it still kills my soul.
In July, nothing major happened. More grief, more pain, more feeling alone.
In August I went to a concert by myself. I went camping for the first time and actually enjoyed it. I got a new temp job (which eventually became my permanent job) and then 2 catastrophic things happened. The first was having my grandmother pass away. While I'm glad she's no longer in pain, I miss her, it was weird not talking to her on Christmas Day (or even recognizing her on Christmas Day). Watching the coffin close was one of the hardest things I've ever seen. Then Katrina hit New Orleans and slowly washed away a second home to me. It's painful to see the pictures, memories are gone, however, I believe that town will rise again (the South always does). Fleeing the city, hearing the rain, these are memories I will keep with me forever. Andy came to visit, and that gave me so much love.
September came and went and the takeaway from that was that my beautiful best friend had a beautiful baby girl. That family just keeps growing.
October, Radius had another retreat, which was another eye opening life changing event. It centered me. I chose this community, I choose what happens to it. I finally accepted it for more of what it was. I began to feel lighter. An old Ryan Adams song became my theme song and I realized that I still have a ton of grieving to do around my small group from Chicago.
November was good, starting with Brian and somewhere in the middle losing Brian. For that brief moment, I realized I was worth loving. I was sad to see him go, I was confused and hurt, but I'm one hott mama, there are plenty of fish in the sea...I had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner with Radius and began to realize how much I really enjoy spending time with Wendy and Jenny.
And now it's December. There are days of sunshine and laughter (like dancing around the Virgin Music Store with Maria). There are days of darkness and confusion about who I am, what I am doing, where I will be. The holidays were fine, only a few things tweaked me theologically and relationally.
So, what you may ask do I want out of 2006? Anything has to be better than the year I had. I'm reminded of the "Friends" quote when they were making New Year's Resolutions:
Ross: No divorces in 99 Chandler: I thought your divorce isn't
going to be finalized until 99. Ross: 1 divorce in 99.
I want to say there will be no grieving and I know that's not true. I've just learned how to accept it more. I want what everyone wants.
I want 2006 to be a year of love. Not romantically (though that would be nice) but holistically. I want to experience the Trinity's love in a more fuller way. I want to be love to others. I want to be loved in new and fresh ways. I want this song to be true in my life.
May your 2006 be filled with love...