Normally, I wouldn’t write about my past year, let alone about myself in unveiled honesty, just because it seems so cliche to do so. However, considering the magnitude of my experiences during 26, I thought it might prove beneficial to write some things down.
I began this birth year at the park, an impromptu celebration due to Easter last year with all its busyness. I thought it would’ve been best to keep things under wraps because two of my friends (one being my then housemate) were getting married in a couple weeks, and I still had to pack to move out. It just seemed like a hassle to plan anything or celebrate in general, so I made no plans — but I always do this to see who remembers when my birthday is.
26 was when I finally had some cajones to ask a girl out after failing to do so for 25 years. (Yes, it starts at birth.) I don’t know what was going through my mind, but it seemed like a good idea. Perhaps I was drunk with the idea of dating. In two months of talking and four months of being in a relationship, the sobriety of real life and the brokenness of this world finally gave me a good splash of awakening. Some would want me to have learned much about myself from this, but in the end, I only learned that bitterness holds for as long as you desire, and as a result, you can either be a man about it, or not.
I lost another grandparent this year. I was a bit nonchalant when I got the news, and I blame myself for my apathy over my circumstances. Though nearly all of my relatives live an ocean away, the negligence is what was ultimately my undoing. I only realize now that losing a parent is one of the more devastating things in life, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Last year, I had a total of three heated arguments with a close friend (at least from what I remember). Each time got progressively worse, until the last time, when I let the big old F-bomb go. It was probably my finest moment of being a jackass, but also the point of most honesty. I repressed so much of what I was going through (see above), and I finally had enough of life and wanted to exact my fury. But my anger was misplaced, and it caused some rifting. It took a while for me to own up to my mistake, and I really had to be vulnerable to acknowledge everything.
My dad’s health finally took a very real blow to my reality. I don’t know why it took so long for me to accept the gravity of the situation, but I would assume it was my own selfishness from the aforementioned chronicles. I felt lost and in deep hurt. This man that had raised me for 26 years, whose ungrateful son finally had the revelation of what it takes to raise a child and who his father is, who worked so hard to take his dreams and make them into a career so that his family could survive, was in decaying health. Hardly fair if you ask me, not just to him but also to me. Again, I found myself seething in anger, but this time, with something extra.
I returned to this very dark place, somewhere to which I only descended two other times. Each time, I felt extreme despair and loneliness, like God had truly abandoned me to my own feeble devices. This time, however, I took a staunch stance at arguing with God, complaining outright why things weren’t going in any way to benefit me. Hadn’t I suffered enough? Where was my prize? At least get me into graduate school. I think I yelled so much in my car that people couldn’t tell if I was angry with them or singing screamo acapella.
When my anger had subsided from exhaustion, it was as if the world quieted long enough for a voice to enter my hearing. Who is first, it asked. Who is first? And that was all it took to break down my pride into a million pieces. I turned into a destroyed wreck upon a wreck. Everything I knew about the Gospel simply crashed upon me, a Niagara Falls of revelation.
From that point, it was a lot of trusting in God and His finished work. It was also a lot of counseling and being vulnerable. It was a lot of checking myself, forgetting myself, and finding myself. As my pastor mentioned, I was going through trials by fire, perhaps a very long string of trials through extra searing gauntlets of flames.
The more I let go of everything else, the more at ease I became with life in general. I had to give up a lot of things, such as my prized guitar and a newer car. I stopped tallying money owed or favors received; instead, I tried to give as much away as I could. I started to invest more in friends and family around me. My expectations dropped, especially that of people and individuals, and I started to acknowledge the things in my life that were indispensable, especially people and individuals. As a result, I had more peace of mind and more meaningful relationships, and, lo and behold, I did get accepted into graduate school.
I still hold onto some old habits, like collecting CDs, binge-watching television shows, eating too many sweets, arguing with people (hopefully with less of an ego), falling asleep on the couch, taking too long to make a decision, feeling insecure around women I don’t know that well, and worrying about things. The more I let God work, though, the easier it is for me to obey and trust, to keep my eyes and heart open, and to worship a little more freely. He is greater than I, He is King, He is the Father, so as Billy Joel sang, why should I worry? In light of eternity, these things are just small potatoes, as a very wise man once told me.
It does seem that this year may have been worth sharing my experiences and reflections. A lot of brokenness healed and wisdom gained. It is quite a bit to process, and I admit that I wrote this more on a whim; but if you were to glean anything from this, I would hope that you realize that though life is hard, it’s how you invest your time and what things you hold dear that will determine how difficult it will be to live. And for those of you that share the same faith, I hope that this testimony of my previous year shows that God is always working for our good by doing His work.
And, you should always try to clean out your shaker bottle as soon as you finish using it.