It’s the last day of the year, the time that I get really nostalgic about life. 2014 has really seemed to fly by in a blur, though, at the same time, I find myself very aware of change, both in the world around me and in myself. And that hasn’t even been confined to the past twelve months!
I’ve been looking back lately, reading posts from the early days of this blog. And you know what? I don’t think I know that Tani anymore. The person I was, four years ago, three years ago, heck, one year ago… is not the me I am now. And that’s a good thing. As I read back, look back to the kid I was, I see someone manipulative, but scared. Someone who didn’t think she had any worth, or could ever have it. Someone who wanted nothing more than to be loved, but was terrified that she wasn’t good enough for it. I was desperate for control of my life, which I felt was slipping away from me, with my sister going quite literally crazy and my parents not really seeming to care about me, so busy were they with her. I thought I was the only person I could possibly depend on, and that made me bitter, cynical, and even mean to anyone who I felt could shake my tenuous control of my life.
I was distant from God, I didn’t know Him, though I pretended to, and I was sick with worry that people would find that out. I didn’t pray much, and I hated Christian music with a passion, because I didn’t understand how people could be so sure that a seemingly uncaring force could really love them, or that they could love Him back. But at the same time, I wanted that feeling. I craved it, which strangely only made me hate it all the more.
Then, I got sick, and that shattered what small confidence I had in my own supremacy. Looking back, I find it almost funny that I was so utterly despondent at what now seems an irrelevant amount of pain, but it was all-consuming back then. I blamed God for it, of course, sure that my as-yet unknown illness was His fault, a punishment for my very existence. I wasn’t supposed to be alive, I was convinced, and God was just trying to wipe me out, fix what my older sister had termed the “mistake” of me being born. She said it was like the Great Flood… God had messed up when He made me, and just wanted me gone so that all the people He had meant to be there could live as they were supposed to, without me messing them up.
(Have I mentioned yet that my sister was crazy? I think it bears mentioning again. My sister, forgive the language, was batshit insane.)
Now, I’m not saying all this to garner pity from y’all, but rather to make a point to who I am, today, on December 31st, 2014. Who am I?
Honestly, that’s the most all-encompassing adjective I can use to describe myself now, a word I would never, in a million years, have used to describe myself back in 2011. Broken, ugly, invisible, sinful, stupid, maybe, but never loved. Never beautiful. Never forgiven. I’m writing this, with Lincoln Brewster’s Made New playing in the background. I understand the words now. Looking back, seeing Tani from 2011 and 2012, I can see God’s hand on me the whole way, changing me and making me better so slowly I barely even noticed until now. I may have felt alone, but He was constantly putting people into my life who made me better, helped me grow, and just loved me. I felt powerful in my own strength, and He sent me loving rebukes that humbled me without breaking me down (not that I liked them much in the moment.) I felt unknown and unknowable, and He showered me with little gifts just for me, a shooting star or a song coming on the radio exactly when I needed it, that reminded me He is there and He knows me.
But at the same time, He’s telling me to finally start looking outward, to stop being the self-sufficient and self-obsessed person I was. This past year, I became a youth minister, something I would never have dreamed I would love as much as I do. It’s amazing to me now (and I don’t mean to sound proud, because it’s a really humbling thought) that I am actually teaching other people about God and His love. People started actually reading my blog, and I started writing for two others. I made great new friends, gained an awesome pastor, read good books, grew in confidence (though not in height… I shrunk again!) travelled, sang, laughed. I’m a new person. The old me? Gone. Who am I, that God would care so much?
I’m like you. Really. All of us wonder, I know, if we’re really lovable or if God really cares. We al have that nagging feeling that God won’t take care of us, and so we cling to our own strength as though it will keep us afloat, when, in reality, it’s an anchor that will drag us down. We want grand displays of God’s love, but don’t really notice that He works in the small things and with the small people.
The day that started my journey back to God was just days after I wrote that post about not feeling like I could ever love or be loved by God. It was such a normal day, until I made that pan of brownies that changed everything. And what a silly thing for God to pick! He could have sent angels or done some huge miracle, but He chose something innocuous and irrelevant to work wonders. That’s kinda how He works. You just have to be open to Him. This new year, if you have any resolutions that you need to keep, let it be this one. Be open. Be broken. Be brought to the lowest point you can, cause that darkness and brokenness is where God starts to work at making you who you’re supposed to be, when all that you’ve made yourself has crumbled away. His plan is so, so much better.