January 2, 2019
Happy new year! I wanted to make this post before the new year actually started, but I have been really busy during this winter break so I’ve been taking my time with some things. I kept making long lists in my head of all of the things I needed/wanted to do and it was starting to overwhelm me a little bit. God has been echoing a little message in my mind over the past few weeks as I’ve been starting to get anxious thinking about 12 million things at once: it’s okay to give yourself time to rest.
Obviously a post like this was coming at some point! I won’t be cliche and say that I can’t believe how quickly 2018 went by, even though it’s true and I said it all year anyway. Since I started the blog back in April I’ve posted so much about things that God had been speaking to me throughout the year — the year that turned out to be the hardest but probably the most pivotal of my life so far. Really, I’ve grown so much and I simultaneously love and hate to look back on everything 2018 held for me. I usually forget a lot of bits and pieces of pretty much every single year, but I really think 2018 is going to be one of those years I remember almost every part of. I think I’ll look back on it often and always think of it as the year that I finally began to see myself turning into the person I was meant to be. I’ve learned so much about life, love, myself, and the Lord over the past 12 months and I never thought I’d say it, but I am so thankful for everything. WOW. If someone had told me 10 months ago I’d be able to say that at the end of the year, I would have laughed hard in disbelief through tears I’m sure. Luckily there has been much less crying these days. Here’s a little recap of my year — things that I’ve learned, things that I’ve gained through loss, and things that I am so proud of myself for (in no particular order) :
- Let go of things that the Lord was showing me were no longer meant for me — I said goodbye to people I wanted in my life forever and seasons that I never wanted to end. At the time it felt like I would never be happy again, but right now I’m writing this with a big old smile on my face because the Lord brought me through that pain and I can see what he’s done in me through it. I’m excited to see what he continues to do.
- Formed new relationships through sharing my struggles — It’s crazy how much freedom you can feel from being vulnerable! I made some friends this year who I feel like I’ve known forever because of the connections we’ve built through sharing our stories with each other. It made me realize how important it is to be open with people and how good it feels to be real. Even when it’s not pretty. The friends I made in 2018 have been such an example to me of the qualities I should be looking for in all of my relationships — love, support, and acceptance always.
- Realized how much I am truly capable of — When everything I thought I knew started to change in ways I didn’t expect, I remember thinking that I would never ever get through it. I woke up and the pain felt too intense. Anxiety wouldn’t let me sleep. Everything felt so completely wrong and there was nothing I could do about it, and it took every ounce of energy in me to not let myself be defeated by my circumstances and my pain. Looking back, I can see how far I’ve come because I chose not to be consumed by things that I went through. I swore I wouldn’t be able to heal, but God worked in spite of me, as he always does. He showed me that I am completely able to experience healing because he gives us strength when we have none.
- Let myself experience new things — I think every single one of my close friends has heard me say this at least 10 times, but I seriously feel like a completely different person than I was at the beginning of last year! One reason I feel that way is because of all of the different ways I stepped out of my comfort zone in 2018, even in the midst of fear and pain. I chose to be vulnerable and open up about things on a public platform (aka, www.monicadibenedetto.wordpress.com), I chose to go out more and got to meet some amazing people and make such fun memories because of it, and I chose to make some changes in my life in order to heal from the past. None of it was easy, but it has all been so worth it. I’m proud of myself for choosing to move forward and not backwards.
- Started to feel new passion — Up until last year I hadn’t put much thought into what I felt like I was being called to do or what I even wanted to do with my life after college. I figured I would just do whatever ended up falling in my lap according to who I was with, where I lived, etc. I never felt truly passionate about anything, and that never felt like a problem to me until last year. I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing, but God has opened my eyes this year to some things that make my heart beat a little faster. I found out that I love to write… who knew! Being able to put thoughts into words makes me feel a little more sane at times. I also found out that I love to connect with others in some way. Every time I received a comment thanking me for a post, encouraging me to keep going, or even asking me for advice, I felt like I was doing what I should be doing. Sharing my story is what I should be doing — it’s what we should all be doing! Even if it’s nothing crazy, even if other people have it worse. You literally never know who you can be ministering to by sharing what you’re going through, and what kind of connections or relationships can be formed because of it. Knowing that something I’ve written has been able to resonate with even just one person makes me feel like my pain had purpose. And because of that, I plan to continue doing it no matter where it’s supposed to lead.
I could make the list way longer, but those are a few of the big things that happened for me in 2018. It was a valley year. At so many points it felt unfair, but I know that life is not supposed to be just a series of mountaintops. Growth happens in the valley. And I know that I did not come out of 2018 the same as I entered into it. I’m so excited for the fresh start of 2019, and I can’t wait to see how the Lord continues to shape me. If you’re going into the new year with some anxiety about what the future holds, I hope you know that you’re not alone. I also hope you can find peace in the knowledge that although the seasons of our lives will always change, God and his love for us stays the same. He is good and his plans are perfect!
Here’s to a new year and remembering that the best is yet to come.