Here's what I learned this year:
Sometimes, prayers really don't get answered how you want them to. Sometimes you sit at your friends bedside while they're dying, and no matter how much prayer, faith, and hope is given, the Lord's ways just are not our ways, period.
The heartache and grief I experienced at Rachel's funeral and memorial service is some of the worst and raw pain I have ever experienced. I still can't go a day without thinking about and missing her. With her death, I learned that life is full of tragedy and heartache. Yes, I had glimpses of this pain many times before, but losing a human being who was so fully integrated in my life story has been exceedingly difficult. The emptiness that I have carried within me has been overwhelming on some days, and others has made me a better nurse at the bedside, when tending to those who are terminally ill.
The triumph and joy that I have experienced in becoming an RN has been nothing short of phenomenal. I have said it over and over again, but it bears repeating; being a nurse is what I was made to do. With absolute certainty, I can say that this career was God's calling on my life. He wants me here. He's given me a gift that I intend on utilizing for as long as He will allow.
When I accepted the position at the hospital I now work for, I took a total leap of faith. I was toggling between four positions offered to me. Two were easy to eliminate, the other two were equal so far as options were concerned. One job was logical, the other was a faith move. I chose the faith move and while the job in and of itself has been amazing, everything else surrounding it has been hard.
My living situation turned out to not quite be what I had anticipated.
The church I chose to attend was also a faith move that just led to heartache, as I learned that the past sometimes is not a thing of the past, and old wounds cannot be mended. I learned that saying "I'm sorry" doesn't equate to forgiveness, and that was a really hard lesson to learn. Rejection in church is hard.
Well, rejection in any form is hard.
I met Jordan* in August, and from the first meeting, he made my heart flutter. I spent so long not feeling much of anything, always putting my heart on hold because I thought I knew, for the past five years, who God intended for me to marry. (Gigantic fail, this story is not quite bloggable yet), and so in the waiting period of my life, I met Jordan.
There were factors working against us (sorry, this story is also not quite bloggable yet). Jordan and I began to spend time with one another. I allowed him to do the pursuing; it was unexpected and fun.
I took a chance on this man because I sincerely thought that he was worth the risk. I appreciated going on adventures and doing life with him. From late night drives to Denver, a work party, learning how to golf, walks, hikes, movies, playing volleyball, phone calls, making dinner together, attending church, looking at his baby photos and watching home videos, star gazing, nearly daily photos of sunrises and sunsets, and some of the most vulnerable conversations of my life, I thought maybe, just maybe I had found what I had been praying for.
But then the ghosting began (definition here), and a final conversation took place. I remember him telling me that the time he spent with me, our conversations, introductions to family, friends, and co-workers, and holding my hand was all just to see if he could feel something, and unfortunately, no, he felt...nothing. Well, nothing romantic for me.
So there we have a great tragedy where one party feels all the feels, and another tries to feel the feels, but feels nothing. So great.
He hugged me and told me how special I am. I took a few days to think about what I wanted. He wanted to remain friends (ooof), and I pondered it. I contacted him two days later to offer friendship, as that was my initial commitment to him, and he told me he didn't want to talk to me any longer, and there was nothing more to say.
So there was that.
Sometimes you're just not enough. Sometimes you're used.
A week later, one of my closest friends came by and told me that he wanted to give "us" a try. Double ooof.
I have learned that life is unpredictable.
But every now and then, I see glimpses of beauty.
Like when you contact a friend when your heart is aching and you're falling apart, and without question, they bring you candy and ice cream and hug you tightly and gently ask "What happened?"
When you're on the run and need a place to stay, and someone offers you their home.
When, after a month of separation and silence, a friend returns and helps you move out of a place in a disorderly and hilarious fashion, hashing out feelings while hurling items into a car with reckless abandon. Or on a day when you have the worst cold you've had in years, and they stop by with chicken noodle soup for you, having driven nearly an hour out their way.
It's letting go of the idea of who and what I love, recognizing that sometimes (most of the time), life doesn't happen my way. It's healing found in a labrador puppy. It's down by water, praying and finding healing when life doesn't make sense. It's a four year olds birthday party. It's seeing a friend again I haven't physically seen in nearly a decade. It's winning an award from my school for academic excellence. It's in every time I meet someone new. It's the date in the middle of a snow storm. It's in letting people know how much I love them. It's graduating nursing school, surrounded by the people that I love and who supported me through this journey. Running a marathon with my closest friend. It's saying goodbye.
It's taking the NCLEX, passing, and thereby officially becoming a nurse. It's in the hikes with friends. It's beautiful rainbows, sunrises and sunsets. It's going to a funeral. It's going to Winterpark for a few days to heal. It's getting closure. It's going to a Hillsong United concert. It's getting a name badge that identifies me as a registered nurse. It's the hours of conversation and memories with Mallory. It's seeing sunflowers everywhere I go and remembering Rachel. It's going to a Lindsey Stirling concert. It's spending the day with an old friend and who was your first kiss. It's the hard talks with people who have differing theological beliefs. It's going to a Bronco's game for the first time. It's a home of my own after years of praying. It's helping to ease someone's pain and being present for their final breath. It's coming to the place of surrender with God, crying more tears than one thought possible, and letting go of what I thought my life was supposed to look like.
That has been 2016.
*Giving his real name would be crazy town