2017: Choosing Joy
In 2016 I dreaded the coming year of 2017.. I knew this year would hold some of the biggest transitions and obstacles I had ever faced, from my first move, to our first deployment, to our first year of marriage. I feared the many unknowns that were my future.
To understand how far I've come, you need to know where I started.
I have lived all my life in the small town of Kailua, HI perfectly content, and extremely comfortable. I have a strong family unit that I wouldn't trade for anything. And I love the land. And I lived for the ocean. I can usually tell which beach you've been to based on the color of the water in your photo and the grain of the sand in your towel.
Everyone knows everyone and watches out for one another. We trade favors for food or plants... or fish. It is always 75-85 degrees (except during the winter when it is a frigid 68). If it is rainy on our days off, we drive to another side of the island to catch the sun. We mark the seasons with the surf swells.
If you've seen the Disney movie, Moana, you know that when she introduces herself she includes her name as well as where she is from. I think this is a good example of how, in island culture, where we are from plays a huge role in our identities.
The idea of leaving my family and my home indefinitely was always inconceivable to me... Which I know sounds small minded to many people, especially all those who have "wanderlust." But why would you ever willingly remove yourself from what you thought was the most perfect place in the world?
Then I fell in love with an incredible man and married him... and the Army. That's another story which you can read HERE
I cannot express with words the multitude of feelings that bombarded me surrounding the aftermath of getting married, packing up, and moving to Colorado Springs. Joy at finally being together after being long distance our entire relationship, sadness at the loss of my home, excitement at building a new one together, guilt for being homesick (everyone kept telling me how lucky I was to be in Colorado), nervousness about expectations of this new military lifestyle, and then: PANIC.
We were landlocked. PANIC. There seemed to be no single green thing. PANIC. I don't know where I am. PANIC. I don't know where to go to buy anything. PANIC. I don't know what to do if I need to see a doctor. PANIC. I don't have anyone to call here if I have an emergency. PANIC. I don't know how to drive in snow. PANIC. I don't even know how to DRESS for snow! PANIC. On and on the list seemed to go of new and scary unknowns and worries and challenges I had never had to deal with before.
Then, just a couple months later, he deployed for nine months. And I felt.... nothing. I felt empty. What was I even doing here? I moved here for him and he was gone. I had nothing. I was alone. I couldn't do this. I didn't really want to do this....
There was no class on this...
But slowly it dawned on me
there were thousands and thousands of women who had experienced these exact things
and more importantly, there were a few who were going through it at the exact same time as me.
I thank God for never leaving me to all my fears and insecurities. Like a grocery clerk guiding a lost and crying child back to his guardian and sense of security, the Lord invited me to go deeper with him, to reach out and risk new relationships, and to keep showing up to church alone even though past wounds tempted me not to. This led me to form some of the sweetest female relationships I have ever had among both single women and married military spouses.
We banded together and went deeper instantaneously, relying on each other and being immediately honest and vulnerable. I became proud of my new community and our calling, and in the effort to lift others up, found that I, too, could stand.
I did not feel confident in myself in the slightest, but I knew we were here for a reason and a purpose, and that gave me courage.
I'm not saying I didn't waste away for a few days on the couch binge-watching FRIENDS and waiting for the snow to stop. I'm not saying I didn't still panic when I experienced car problems and extreme weather conditions. I'm definitely not saying I never cried in moments of being overwhelmed with loneliness and homesickness. But I decided early on that this year was not going to be remembered as "The year I waited for him to come home." Even from afar, Zac encouraged and empowered me to step up to all the new challenges, and beyond: to push myself and try new things, and to not wait for him to come home before I experienced them. (At first I told him I had had plenty of new things to keep me busy thank you very much). However, I eventually saw his wisdom and began to take steps towards reinventing myself.
This past year I have...
Moved, for the very first time
Road-tripped across the country multiple times
Attempted skiing twice
Traveled solo internationally for the first time
Started a business
Climbed three 14er's
Experienced the "home feeling" here in Colorado
Run a half marathon at high elevation
Become a regular at my favorite coffee shop
Built meaningful relationships with women I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet
Developed appreciation for a whole new type of beauty
As you can see, I think it is important to count the emotional victories as well as the physical ones.. I think we often look for a measurable standard to base our growth and progress on, but there are so many valuable things that do not have numbers attached to them.
So I attribute my growth this year to three main things:
- My faith in the Lord to bring me through what he brought me to by using painful and uncomfortable situations
- My loving husband who has believed the best in me from the moment we met and caused me to grow into the person I am today
- The many loving friends who gathered around me in sisterhood, creating an atmosphere of safety and vulnerability even when we were at our worst and weakest moments
- The intentional choice to make the most of every opportunity despite my feelings
I am beyond Thankful for every experience this past year held, and for the opportunity to add these things to myself. 2017 was a big one for me, and I hope as you all reflect on this coming New Year, that you too can be proud of your accomplishments and face 2018 with optimism and determination.
Mahalo nui loa Ke Akua