You can learn how to be a grown-up.
You can learn how to file your taxes. You can learn how to pick the best health insurance. You can learn how to make something besides pasta for dinner. You can learn how to pay the bills. You can learn how to save for a house, or a future family, or even retirement.
You can learn how to be a grown-up. But, no one can tell you how to actually grow up.
It has been almost exactly one year since I graduated from college. And they were right, everyone who told me that this would be the hardest year of my life—they were right. The past 12 months have not gone without more hardships, frustration, tears, or heartache than I’ve ever faced in a year’s time.
It’s been a year of many emotions, good and bad.
Not many moments can replace the relief and joy I felt the day I was hired by The Martin Agency. After so many months of searching, and praying, and begging, and questioning, and wondering—I could not have foreseen a greater mountain at the end of that long, deep valley.
And not many moments can stand next to becoming a Young Life leader in the West End of Richmond. It was one of my most precious blessings to sit and cry with Athena Post, a dear freshman girl at Freeman High school, as she asked the Lord to come into her life in the Rockbridge dining hall. Not many moments could have begged me to be anywhere else but right there with her.
There were, and are, so many high moments. But it was, it is, the trials that taught me, and continually teach me, how to really grow up.
It was sitting cross-legged on the corner of my bed, and slumped over my laptop at our dining room table, and laying on the rocks down at Belle Isle, and crying on the phone with my Grandma as I paced around the backyard - that made me plead for sanctification, and beg for a hopeful spirit, and finally (kind of, sort of) really trust who God tells me every day He is—my absolute everything.
It’s trials that make the Bible a three-dimensional piece of literature. It’s valleys that make God not a historical figure, but current and present and very very real. It’s sin and brokenness and suffering that allow us to see Him as all we will ever entirely need.
But, I didn’t always see God like that this past year. I didn’t always see Him as good. Actually, sometimes I saw Him as really, really mean. There were days (Easter being one) that I might have actually hated Him. And there were many moments when I would say out loud, “Don’t touch me. Just go away.”
I was so angry with Him. I didn’t want Him near me.
I felt picked on and used as a punching bag. I used the word ‘unfair’ over and over. There was a certain, very recent, season of my life when the pain felt relentless. The air was constantly being knocked out of me, and I was positive that it was God doing the hitting.
I was unsure of which way was up and which way was down. I had no peace, no hope, no joy. I was mad at everything - or what I thought was my everything - I was mad at God. I’ve never experienced that kind of low - to feel so distanced from God - to see Him as the wronger rather than the healer - to run away rather than to draw near. I had never seen myself like that, cold and bitter.
I’ve always thought it was this huge taboo to be mad at God - like I really would get struck by lightning, or something. But even in my darkness, He found a way to say: I can take it. Lay it on me.
So I did.
I threw my fists hard at Him. And I didn’t stop.
But eventually I weakened, and fell the only place I could - right into His arms.
This was the plan all along.
Though difficult, I am thankful beyond thankful for this past year. For those about to embark on their first year in the real world, this is my only advice:
Let it be hard. You will learn everything in time, and God will bring every part of this puzzle together with complete, perfect authority. Do not worry. This year will be hard, very hard. But let it be. Learn every lesson you can. Soak it all in.
Embrace all valleys. And walk slow.