2016 was a lot like an empty notebook waiting to be filled. A book with blank pages. It was a gift wrapped up and handed to me, waiting to be opened and worn in. With great excitement, I tore off the big red bow and flipped through the empty pages as the smell of fresh paper enveloped my senses. There I sat holding a new sense of hope, a blank slate, a chance to start over again.
The first entry is always the neatest. Filled with my very best handwriting and clearly articulated phrases. But as days were lived in, the desire for perfection became tiring and I lost my will to hold my pen up straight.
Like shoes getting their first scuff, or a sweater being snagged, life’s obstacles often divert this attitude of attaining perfection and rather add a bit of character to those crisp white pages.
We’re all a bit messy, the pages of our stories are dog-eared and coffee stained and our writing even goes diagonally up the page. But I like that better.
Some days we know exactly who we are and who we’re called to be and the next, someone accidentally spills their coffee over our plans.
There are times this year I wanted to rip out pages and scribble out words. I’d hit all-time highs and lows in the matter of those 366 pages. There were times of feeling alone, broken and confused and others where I was so sure of who I was and stepped into life confidently and boldly.
Sometimes I made the mistake of handing the pen to someone other than God. I gave man the pen and let them convince me that their version of me would be better, and more worldly. It turns out it's never a good idea to let anyone step in God’s place. I am God’s co-author for my story- others aren’t.
This year provided more life lessons than most. Growth came from torn pages and paper cuts- trial and error. There was lots of losing and finding myself again, contemplated words and bold statements.
But what a great step we take when we start to live a life where we accept those coffee stains and dog-eared pages. When we stop binding our story with perfection and dance between the pages with our muddy shoes on, unconcerned about comparing our covers to the ones next to ours, we find freedom.
My story this year was about God teaching me to recognize the value in my story without asking questions or making comparisons. My story is valuable because He says it is, mess and all. And He says yours is too.
So as we close the last page of this year’s chapter we can look forward to hearing the crackling of a new journal being opened and fresh pages for us to fill all over again- and this time with assurance in Him and more confidently than before.
How awesome that we receive this gift every year? The chance to finish one chapter and begin another.
With this, 2016, thank you for the time you provided to teach me lessons that could only be understood in this season of life.
What was your story this year?
p.s. Don’t let anybody steal your pen.