I will be turning 24 at the end of February, and for the most part, I can honestly say that year 23 has been my best year yet. It started with getting an email on my birthday with the thumbs up to travel to Southeast Asia. Seriously, how do you beat that? I then proceeded to spend 5 months traveling and studying on the complete opposite side of the world. It was the best experience that I’ve ever had. I even rode an elephant! And what made the whole thing even greater was that I was the closest that I’ve ever found myself to God. I could always feel Him right beside me and He was constantly opening my eyes to the brokenness of this world and just how much we as Christians need to live to shine His light in it. It sounds crazy, but as I learned about Eastern religions, my heart broke for Reno, Nevada, my hometown, because I saw so many parallels in the ways that people were working to find meaning and happiness. I don’t think that I came home as quite the same girl as when I left.
But that’s not the only thing that changed this year. After I got home, life seemed grand on the surface. It’s pretty common for everyone to have the same big New Year’s Resolutions that get thrown to the wayside come February: read more, travel, lose weight. It was December and I was looking back over my year and I had done all three of these throughout the year. I had lost over fifteen pounds in Asia simply due to eating better food. I had also read twenty books, whereas a year before I could count on one hand how many I had read in the previous three years. I felt pretty good about myself.
But then, Christmas came and went and with the New Year, something felt off. The holiday season was over and people became busy again. I was sad and lonely. I found myself alone for the first time in months. And when I did see anyone, it felt like the only topic of conversation was to be asked when I was hopping on a plane again to embark on my next adventure. I hated trying to explain that; “I feel like I need to just be here in the present for the moment and haven’t made any further travel plans yet.” Emotions came flooding in hard. It felt like all I knew how to do for over a week was cry. To make matters worse, I had been home for two whole months and hadn’t opened my Bible on my own since stepping off the airplane. I no longer had my strongest relationship with Jesus that I had found only a few months prior. Not only did I feel deserted by people, I felt abandoned by God too.
Something clearly needed to change. But it still took me some time to get there. When I finally did open that Book, it didn’t feel miraculous or anything, but I did sleep straight through the night for the first time in two weeks. The next day I felt more at peace than I had since getting back to the states. I’m not even trying to say that I was walking on sunshine happy. I wasn’t. But I am saying that there was certainly something that I’ve truly missed these past two months.
I don’t know what to expect for the future. I’ve been through this amazing year filled with blessings, and am back at a place where I do not know what even tomorrow looks like. But what I do know is that God is holding me as tightly today as He was in Asia. So for now I need to strive to draw close to Him and trust Him with the rest.