In the morning, I turn 23.
It's always a little bittersweet for me to leave one year behind and move into a new one. It's a poignant reminder that time doesn't stop for anyone, no matter how much we'd like to freeze some moments forever.
This year has been far from easy. I've been challenged in more ways and experienced more heartache than I think I ever have before.
But here's the thing: in all of that, I got stronger. I changed and grew. And I can say with a quiet sort of pride that now, on the other side of this year, I truly have come a long way.
The girl I was a year ago was someone defeated. I was trapped in sin, despair, and so much self-criticism that I couldn't even see straight. I looked to the future, to the life I saw ahead of me, and I choked on it. I didn't think I had it in me to become the woman God is calling me to be.
I learned something important about that from Simcha Fisher, a blogger at the National Catholic Register.
It's true that the present version of myself isn't ready for the future. But present-me is perfectly suited for where I am right now. And when I get to The Future, whatever it holds, I'll be ready then, too.
I've seen the hand of God all over my life, especially looking back on the tough seasons when I thought He had abandoned me. The truth is that He was never gone. If anything, He was closer then, working in the midst of it all to mold me into something even more graceful and good.
This year, he freed me from addiction. He brought me to love His wonderful Mother, who I've always been lukewarm about. He allowed me to face some of my greatest failures from the past in order to forgive myself. He showed me I could be trusted to love and support another precious soul. He showed me I'm not the failure I thought I was. He showed me that I am good, that I can love fully, and that I am, in every sense of the word, unquestionably beautiful.
If that's not a laundry list of triumphs, I don't know what is! Alleluia!
The year ahead is full of questions and difficulties; that much is certain. But it's also full of hope, discovery and transformation.
I have God. No one can or will ever take Him away from me. With Him, and with the wonderful people He's blessed me with, I really can get through anything.
All I want this year is to experience more of that beauty, love and joy in my life, and to share that everywhere I can.
I can't wait to get started!