Today, I turn 32.
This may not seem like a milestone birthday for most people, but for me looking back on my 31st year of life, 32 seems like a pretty important milestone for me.
My 31st year was one of the most challenging years I’ve faced and one that pushed me to grow in many ways I was prepared to grow in and many years I was not.
As E started pre-school and was no longer under my care full-time, I entered back into school part-time to pursue my dream of being a pediatric nurse. Going back to school (especially on campus) after a 10 year hiatus was a big change for me. For the most part, I loved it. It felt wonderful to be challenging myself academically again and to thrive while doing so. But it was also a big adjustment learning how to balance my academic commitments with our family life as well as my social life.
I personally faced many health challenges that I wasn’t anticipating. From ones I was prepared to face, like the thought of losing my right ovary, to ones that came out of nowhere like my 5 day stint at a Neurological Institute, these were both times of great pause and reflection in my life.
My husband faced the greatest health challenge we’ve ever faced together and I learned that the thought of him facing a serious health condition was far scarier then when I faced it for myself. It was the first time I ever had to think of walking this earth without him by my side, and it was the scariest moment in my life.
Through these major milestones of this past year, the personal pause and reflection that ensued was literally life changing. The lessons I learned were humbling, and maybe that’s the best word to describe this past year: Humility.
I learned that people will surprise you in both good and bad ways. On the positive side, I learned who genuinely cares for me and my family, the people who will always be there for you (and I don’t mean physically because sometimes a phone call or a text is even more appreciated than an in person visit). I was truly amazed to see that some people whom I wouldn’t have guessed would show up for us in a time of adversity were the people there in the strongest form. It’s humbling to know that there are people out there who care so much about you and your family and will do whatever they can to keep you happy and also in working order so you can focus on recovery and healing.
I also learned that sometimes, the people who you think will show up the most because of who they are or the title they have don’t. These people will let you down over and over time and time again and seem to not even care that it’s hurtful to you. I learned that sometimes a lifetime of a relationship with someone doesn’t keep them from talking about you behind your back, pointing out your flaws because they’re too cowardly to face their own. This lesson, while one I’ve been exposed to before, came in full swing this year, and it’s a very painful lesson to learn as you always learn it while you are at your most vulnerable.
This was a big year relationship wise for me. Friendships that I once thought were ended, merely were resting, and rekindled like they never had pause. I was reminded that sometimes the people whom you assume you have absolutely nothing in common with upon first meeting, are the people who understand you the most. I also learned that just because someone has been a great friend in the past and done wonderful things for you, doesn’t mean that it gives them a free pass to treat you like poop now. I also learned not to judge so quickly, as there are truly good people out there. People whom you have never spoken to, but hear about your situation and send you audio recordings of lectures you miss so you don’t get behind, simply because they want you to succeed.
This was a growing year. A year full of trials and adversity, but an important one to face. Without this year of adversity, I wouldn’t be prepared for the year ahead of me which I am labeling a year of grace.
This year, my focus is to give grace and while it sounds unselfish, it’s completely selfish. I spent a good part of the year pained and hurt by people in my life who I once thought were the people whom I was supposed to have the closest of relationships with. Giving grace is my completely selfish way of letting go of that hurt.
I will give grace because you make your own choices, and I will no longer let you hurt me by those choices.
This doesn’t mean I will be a revolving door to continue to be hurt time and time again, it simply means that for the people whom have decided to mock me for my weaknesses and blame their problems on me, I will give you grace because it must be horrible to walk around being so insecure that in order to start to work on your own faults, you have to point out others so harshly. It means that the people (or person) who chooses to live as though I don’t exist and who I thought would always be the person/people in my life who would be there for me, I will give you grace, because it must be really hard to walk around with that much hate that it’s easier to just not care about a person. This year I will give grace, because every person is walking their own battle, and I’m no longer going to own their battles for them.