2015 was a hard year for me.
In the world of sports they call it a rebuilding season. I guess year 26 was that for me. There were times of exceeding joy as well as times of excruciating pain. Heartache and happiness. Gain and loss. Disappointment and hope. Fear and peace. Fullness and emptiness. Contentment and terror. Belly laughs and soul-shaking sobs.
A year of opposites and stark contrasts. Blessings and only blessings. A year in which the Lord reigned supreme and not one molecule moved without His permission.
If I could have written a letter to myself at the beginning of last year, knowing what I know now, it would go something like this:
Dear 25-year-old Sophie,
2015 is going to be tough, so hold on. If I could tell you anything about this year it’s that it will hurt a lot but, despite the bruises to your heart (and body, you little klutz), you will experience more joy and love than you’ve ever known.
You don’t know it yet, but you have some brutally thick walls around your heart. You’ll discover them in a few months along with people who will help tear them down. Underneath those bricks, you’ll find loads of insecurities. Drop them and run to the One who purchased your refuge with His blood. He is true safety and perfect love, which casts out all fear.
Despite your resistance, people will fight to be in your life and you’ll learn to love it. But then one day you’ll find yourself fighting to keep them in your life when it’s just not meant to be. This hurts. But you will be okay. Give people grace always. Even the grace to walk out of your life.
This year will bring deep friendships, complete with pun wars, late night coffee-laced chats and laughs that will make you throw your head back and shake all the way to your toes. You’ve not yet experienced the comfort of being fully known and fully secure with a human before, but you will this year. And those relationships when founded on the Lord? Well, you will discover they’re blissful.
You will also discover stabbing pain when those friendships cease to exist. Fight cynicism when this happens (you don’t do this well, so really work on it). One day you will find a quiet resolve burgeoning within that whispers it was all worth it.
…and sometimes people come back to tell you they never left at all and you learn some humans define friendship differently than you and it’s okay. Learn to compromise. Learn to trust. Self-preservation is not a characteristic of Jesus therefore it should not be one of yours. Learn to be brave.
Being in your 20s is weird and hard and awkward, but one of the greatest comforts of 2015 is the piercing reality that Jesus lived through His 20s and identifies with everything you’re going through. There is nothing new under the sun and God will not ask of you anything He is not willing to do Himself. Swim around in that truth for a while.
Not every guy wants to marry you and not every guy will leave you. Don’t believe Hallmark movies but don’t discount them completely. Be open but guarded (I still don’t know what that means). Be yourself. God created you with your talents and giftings and abilities for a specific purpose in His kingdom. Don’t shortchange them or sell Him short by trying to be someone else. Stay in your lane; fulfill your ministry (2 Tim. 4:5). You’ll gradually learn to be okay with being Sophie this year. And you’ll love the freedom that comes in the process.
Though you will fail them and make many mistakes, your small group babies will have more of your heart than ever before. You will love them more deeply and purely than in the previous five years combined and you will start learning to love and serve people because you see them as people to be loved instead of projects to be fixed. This will be one of your favorite moments of 2015. Get ready for those lessons in community. Ahh, community—you will fall in love with this community and your church all over again. Let the walls down for them. Be brave for them. It’s worth it.
Haley will move back to Lexington this year and you will know loneliness like you’ve never known. But, in a plot twist of beautiful proportions, you and Haley will be closer than when she was only 40 minutes away. Both of you will grow and mature and endure heartbreak and setbacks. You will taste the richness of grace and remind each other that the undercurrents of all your longings are for more of Christ. You will also fulfill your dreams of going to England together. In Britain, there will be more coffee consumed and tears shed than you, in your anti-emotions state, will know what to do with. Embrace all the emotions and memorize all the moments. (Sadly, you won’t get to cuddle with Prince George or hug Princess Kate while you’re there. Get over it already.)
2015 holds a lot more for you but you’ll discover the rest soon enough.
Remember what your homegirl Flannery O’Connor said, “I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.”
God is only out for your good and the staggering reality is that Jesus leans in, even when we try to run. He is the true and better Husband, whose vows extend beyond “’til death do us part,” into the beauty of “never will I leave you or forsake you.”
Rest in Him. You’re safe there.
Your 26-year-old self