Wow. This has probably been one of the most dramatic, adventuresome, and life-changing years I will ever have. This little exercise is mostly for me, but I wanted to take a minute to look back at everything that happened this year. I need some perspective, anyway.
1. On Ash Wednesday, I broke up with my girlfriend of over 2 1/2 years. I posted many a post about this back then, and to be honest, it’s still rough. It’s still a source of pain, and I still mourn the loss, from time to time. Ultimately it was a good thing, a really good thing. But man, did it hurt. I am so thankful for all the things I learned about relationships, romance, and the nature of love from this exhausting and emotional experience. Experience is a harsh teacher, but you learn. By God, do you learn.
2. I put in over 100 hours of volunteer time at the Union Gospel Mission downtown and gained not only a sympathy, but a respect, for the poor and powerless. Even paranoid schizophrenics, I learned, have something to teach us about Jesus.
3. I graduated from SPU with a Bachelor’s in Theology, with minors in Global & Urban Ministry, Christian Scripture, History, and Philosophy. Why I needed four minors is beyond me, but hey. I am so glad that I decided to switch to SPU after my freshman year. I can’t imagine how different my life would be without this place, and I am so thankful for the way my professors and peers sparked my imagination and supported me in a time of intellectual struggle and exploration.
4. I planned, raised funds for, and went on a 5-week trip through Europe and the Middle East. From the 21st of June to the 2nd of August, I visited Berlin, Krakow, Budapest, Istanbul, Cairo, and the Holy Land to study and experience the history of the Holocaust and the founding of Israel, Arab culture and Christianity, Islam, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a host of other tangentially related topics. It was a huge thrill. I came back with $40 to my name, but with loads of memories and many new friends.
5. I read the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation, in order. It’s actually quite the story, when you get the wide angle on it. Sometimes we get so busy with the details that we miss the bigger picture.
6. I spent a lot of time underemployed. This is a bigger deal than you might think; working 7 hours a week is a drag. I’ve learned a lot from it, though, on just how much self-worth I find in what I do, rather than who I am. This is no good.
7. I worked 80 hours at a book binding warehouse in south Seattle. This was a fascinating and grueling experience in its own right. I gained an even deeper respect for the working poor, a better understanding of their day-to-day struggles, and received a renewed since of calling to live among them and for them.
8. I started dating one of my best friends I made in college, someone whom I admire and respect so much, and have been blessed repeatedly by our relationship. My hope and prayer is that this will continue throughout 2011, and that we would grow closer together and learn to love each other fully, truly, and freely this coming year.
Here’s to another year, whatever it may bring. May we learn to graciously accept the gifts that God offers us in this coming year.