We’re two months away from a new year. Two. Months. Often times when I sit back and think about how quickly time is passing, I get sad and reflective. And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. As a photographer, I find it easier to hold on to moments than to let them go which allows me to kind of be my own sort of photo album in some way. But if I were to be truthful with you, most times, holding onto moments spirals me into this never-ending hole of nostalgia and longing for those times that have passed, which ultimately leads me into pretty deep sorrow.

This year, however, I’ve been pretty excited for 2019 to come. Time passed by a little slower with 2018. A lot of undesirable things happened and I wanted things to just move on as fast as they could. Loss of friends, death of my grandma… 2018 has not been my favorite. But in the midst of all of it, through my chasing after a new year, I was told over and over to slow down. And though it was annoying for me to hear, wanting to control these hurtful situations, it was absolutely needed.

I was angry — with myself, with my friends — and I wanted out. In these types of situations, I normally give myself two options:

  1. Run away and leave everything as is or…

  2. Dive in head-first and try to fix things.

Without someone by my side telling me to slow down, I would’ve succumbed to the second option. My friends meant a lot to me. Still do. I wanted to just get in there and defend myself even though I knew very well that my words would only fall upon deaf ears. And although I had one person who stuck with me and never left, I had never felt so alone in my life. But this one person was all I needed to help me slow down and I hope I can be that one person for somebody else.

So I stayed where I was at. In an unfavorable and lonely position, I waited. There, I found out how to be silent and still. I learned that being broken is a worshipful thing to be and that it isn’t shameful. There, I planted myself in the hole I dug myself into. I cried as I prayed, knowing very well how much Jesus suffers with me. People I didn’t know before surrounded me and nurtured me. I grew roots even on my most difficult days. And through making myself known (which is the hardest thing for an introvert) and letting the sun bring to light my flaws and insecurities, I grew. I grew and grew and grew. And once I broke the surface and sprouted my itty-bitty leaves, I saw that I wasn’t alone.

I’ve been welcomed and accepted into a garden-full of people and now we grow together. When we rush through life, we don’t allow ourselves time to grow. And growth is a slow, slow process. Sometimes it doesn’t look like what we expect it to look like and sometimes we can’t even feel it. But it’s there, so long as you set yourself up for it and allow it. If you give up on the opportunity to grow, you might also miss out on seeing the community who grows with you.

I’d be lying if I told you I don’t think about the past anymore. It’s been 8 months since I’ve had a tight group of friends I’m comfortable with and it still hurts a ton. But I’d also be lying to you if I said I regret all the crap I went through this year, because I know I made the best decision for myself. It’s not at all about what you could’ve done differently or how you could’ve changed things. It’s about how you’re going to use those moments to grow you.

So, I’d encourage you to slow down. Even in the toughest moments. Especially in the toughest moments.

Every single moment of your life, you’re welcomed to come as you are. In your brokenness, in your losses, in your victories and triumph. You are welcomed and accepted and loved. Show up as you are, with whatever crap you might have. Maybe you won’t be accepted by people you may have thought would be there for you, because people are fickle. They will say and think things you have no control over, and will never know the full story because your feelings are your own and theirs are theirs. You lived it, they didn’t and striving for their acceptance or approval will wear. you. down.

So may we ourselves assume the best and have compassion as Jesus did — and still does — for us. Allow the broken to come and be accepted, pour into them grace and acceptance and there, all their gaps will be filled.