It’s finally the holidays. This year has been a wild one. It included such a whirlwind of emotions. The emotions ranged from great moments of joy to great moments of heartache and frustration. It has been quite a tumultuous year to say the least. This season of life has taught me more about the mysterious essence of life than any time before. It has shown me that people can either be my greatest supporters or greatest obstacles. It has shown me that there can be such joy in the most desolate of places. This blog will display a bit of my journey through this past year as I briefly reminisce upon just a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Life is weird. It can be good yet so hard at the same time. Life is a complicated, beautiful creation.  

It is incredibly eye-opening to reflect upon a year and realize what kind of people we were at the beginning and recognize the progress we’ve made within ourselves. 365 days can consist of numerous highs and lows. One minute you’re anxious, and the next minute you’re still a little anxious… but engaged (I just got engaged!!!). And then, there is everything in between. This year, I have come to appreciate life’s complexity and simplicity. Everything can seem so chaotic in the moment, but at the very end of the year, we are able to look back and see it all through a clearer lens. Situations may still be complex, but it seems as though we have a better view from the larger scope of the entire year.

I believe it is important to be vulnerable. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but much of our disconnection in humanity is often due to our lack of vulnerability. We hide behind our perfect social media feeds. We even hide behind our own beautiful smiles. Well, I’m going to give you all a little look behind my closed doors. This is not going to be easy, so please bear with me.

I’ve been angry. Many of you who know me most likely would not think of me as a hothead; however, I do in fact have a bit of a temper. Typically, I am able to hide my frustration behind a smile, but this year has made that very difficult. I have been faced with challenges that have made me almost explode in anger.

More than ever before, I have experienced the pierce, sharp pain caused by the words and actions of others. Through this year, I have realized that people often do not realize the profound impact that their words have on others. Simply asking someone how their day is going can completely change the trajectory of their day. They may have woken that morning thinking that no one has a care in the world about their life. That simple question could make them feel cared for and seen. On the other hand, words can hurt. I’m sure many of you have been hurt through words in the past. I’m sure you can think of one of these instances at this moment. Words like these can haunt us. Words are often the root of our deepest insecurities. So many words this year left a lasting impact on my life. They really did hurt. They did in fact raise my deepest insecurities back to life. They made my loved ones hurt. They made them insecure. And for that, I was angry.

We often learn that we should be slow to anger. Therefore, I decided it was best for me to suppress my anger. In turn, it only kept building over time. Even as I write this blog, there is a part of me that yearns to give in to the anger. I am tempted to let it control my words. It has consumed me because I have been handling it all in an entirely unhealthy manner. Anger is a human emotion. We feel it, and it is natural. Don’t suppress it in an attempt to be “slow to anger.” That is not natural. In fact, that is not what Jesus did. In the time of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus got angry. He was frustrated because people were using the temple as a trading ground. He even flipped over tables in anger. Jesus was perfect yet he also got angry. What do you suppose that tells us? God didn’t design humans to suppress feelings. Quit internalizing your anger. Allow yourself to feel it.

In saying this, the effects that are caused by anger can be unhealthy. Do not take your anger out on someone through the form of manipulation or hurtful words. In fact, we need to learn to hold our tongues in certain instances. Allow yourself time to feel the anger and then respond later. A particular way in which I allow myself to feel anger is through venting to God, whom I trust as a worthy counselor. It’s not like God doesn’t already know the situation. Of course, you should always practice caution regarding who you talk to in certain situations, but if you have someone you trust, talk to them. And counselors are simply amazing. Get a therapist, you won’t regret it. I cannot stress how important mental health is. It always does good to debrief your feelings. Just DO NOT suppress them. Allow yourself feel emotions.

Words have not only made me feel angry but also small. I’m sure many of you know this feeling as well. It’s that feeling where you are simply living your life, but it appears as though everyone around you is thriving. It can sometimes feel like you are messing everything up, and everyone else seems to have it all together. The truth is that it is all an illusion. Someone is most likely making you feel small because they feel small on the inside. I just wish we could all build each other up. Instead, it feels like we are placed in this constant cycle of feeling small and making others feel small. My confidence has naturally taken a hit as a result from some of these situations. Whether intentional or not, people have re-opened some of my deepest insecurities. And when we’re reunited with old insecurities, it just sucks.

One insecurity came out of nowhere this summer. It wasn’t anyone’s words that caused it. It wasn’t actually anyone’s fault. A little friend decided to join me on my vocal cords. It wasn’t a nodule, but it was a polyp. A polyp is essentially a nodule that isn’t bad enough to be considered a nodule. It was practically a small blister that was forming on my vocal cords. Every time I sang, it was only a matter of time before I croaked like a frog. While I joke about it now, it was incredibly embarrassing and frustrating at the time. At first, I thought it was normal. Why I thought croaking like a frog was normal? I don’t know, but I did. Eventually I got into the doctor. They identified the problem, and I had to go on vocal rest for a month. I could still talk. I just couldn’t sing. Sometimes I got sad, but in many ways, I went through a time of healing. My voice had been overused for so long, and it needed rest. Instead of giving it the rest it needed, I said yes to every opportunity that came my way. And it hurt me in the end.

Rest is important. It is easier said than done to rest. It’d be amazing if we could always get everything done, but we simply cannot. There comes a point when we need to draw a line. Don’t be ashamed that you are tired or discouraged. You are human. Again, Jesus felt the same way. Right before Jesus was going to be arrested and crucified, he cried out to God from a place of discouragement, exhaustion, and fear of what was to come. Humanity wasn’t created to constantly be on-the-go. You need to take care of yourself as you are called to do. Again, allow yourself to feel the weariness. I can promise you that one of the ways you hurt yourself the most is through bottling your feelings. You need to let yourself decompress your feelings and not feel guilty about it. We are going to feel tiredness and pain sometimes. It is all a natural part of life. I lost my Grandpa this past year, and for a while, I didn’t want to feel the pain. But friends, bottling up your feelings is not natural or doing you any good. It only makes the hurt sink in deeper. Let yourself feel it, especially if you’re grieving at the loss of a loved one.

My vocal teacher has been amazing at not only teaching me about my voice but also about life. Before the semester was out for Christmas break, him and I were talking about my goals for next semester. I told him my overall goal was to gain confidence. Over this past year, I lost my confidence. Words, the actions of others, and unfortunate circumstances all took a toll on the joy I once found in singing and turned it into something that only made me insecure. I want to gain confidence and enjoy singing again. After I told him this, he replied with something that has stuck with me since. He told me that I need to unlearn many of the truths in which I have been accustomed to believing for so long. For instance, one of these “truths” includes the illusion that being confident is prideful. The truth is that I can be confident in myself without being prideful. There is a distinct difference between the two. In the past, I have felt ashamed for having confidence in myself because I have associated it with pride. But we need confidence in order to be content with the path that God has chosen for us in life. We must unlearn this truth that we cannot be confident in ourselves without being prideful.

Truthfully, we need to unlearn MANY of the truths that we have been accustomed to believing. You are not less than the people around you because you might be a little socially awkward. Going to church is not the equivalent to doing the work of Christ. There are such strong Christians in the world who are trying to gain the courage to walk back in the church doors after being hurt. You aren’t weak because you express feelings. You aren’t being prideful by being confident in yourself. You aren’t a slacker because you didn’t work all seven days of the week. God rested on the seventh day. You aren’t small. People who want to feel big often grow through making others feel small. These are only a few points we need to unlearn. I hope you can join me in unlearning these truths, along with others in your life. It’s okay to be uncomfortable in doing this. We are called to be uncomfortable in order to grow.

And where do we go in the midst of unlearning these truths? How do we even know what needs to be “untruthed” in our lives? To be honest, I believe the answer is always love. Ask yourself if your decisions, your words and your actions revolve around love. Are the truths you’re feeding into filling you with love? Do you have love in your actions and love for the people around you? Love is always a good filter of the truths you should hold onto in life. What did Jesus do? He loved. His agenda was always love, and our agendas should reflect the same. We all need to acknowledge our agendas and reflect upon the true meaning and intention behind our words and actions. What is our true intention? Are our words making a point, or are they bringing people down? Is the truth you are feeding yourself loving or self-deprecating?

What is a truth in your life that you need to untruth/unlearn? Maybe that’s a good question to ask yourself as we begin 2022. Start to uncover the lies that you have been feeding yourself and untruth them. In the meantime, choose love. I promise you can never go wrong when you simply choose love.

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