Israel with its sun beaming down hotter than I’ve ever felt before. Graduation where President Ryan talked about leaving a light for when we’d return home. Dozens of rejections lining my inbox. The rejection I kind of blacked out during right outside a coffee shop. Singing worship songs at 2am because none of us wanted to go home. Laughing with friends around the kitchen table at the Study Center. 2022 has been filled with so many memories. Both good and bad. It’s time I wrote up a little reflection on it.
These posts are always my favorite. Maybe it’s the part of me that loves to collect ideas over time and then bring them together. Maybe it’s the way I love looking back and connecting the dots over the faint lines I now have wisdom to see. Or maybe it’s that I like a good story with a lesson at the end, even when the plot points are messy and not so easily defined.
This year I’ve laughed and cried and read books and sang. I wanted to reflect on that, and I hope you have a chance to do so too.
Timing is Everything
We’ve all heard this everywhere. From advertisements to funny TV shows (HIMYM, anyone?). But I think it’s true. This year I realized that I had a story where the timing just fit. I met a friend of mine, during my first year of college, randomly. I had just dropped my Calculus class. (I was in way over my head. And I thank that professor for kindly telling me to drop that class.) I decided to enroll in a 3000 level philosophy class instead. (You can laugh. It was also not a good idea, but better than calc.) I met that friend, and then found out that we were in the same campus ministry a few weeks later. I showed up to the beach house to relax after our silent retreat, and they were there. It’s a wild story to me because none of it was planned. It was decisions that were made independently of one another. And yet, that’s how our friendship began.
I still believe this even when the timing doesn’t make sense. I’m currently trying to hold onto this truth. That certain pieces have to fall into place at the right time for things to work out. It’s probably why I love HIMYM, and every other story where the timing just fits.
Related Post: What I’ve Learned in 2021 + full 2021 Highlights
Silence is a Purifier
I have to admit I’m an addict. I’m addicted to noise. To people. To crowds. To entertainment. I would be lying to you if I said I did not binge television this past weekend. Even as an addict, I have found that silence is a gift. It purifies and brings to the surface what is hidden. As a Christian, I’ve tried silent prayer many times. And it is as lovely as it is frustrating. I realize how loud my mind is. How many things it’s saying to me. And how many of those thoughts are things I’ve been told. Not necessarily what’s true.
Lie on your bed in silence. Just breathe and think. I’ve had many revelations doing this. Allow yourself to think, to be pulled into the wormholes of your mind. Or if you’re prone to falling asleep, take a walk. I love taking walks. It’s what’s made this winter more bearing for me. Fresh air and time to think. The things we’re struggling with the most don’t usually lie on the surface of our minds. They have a deeper grip. Sit for five minutes in the quiet and see what comes to you.
New Hobbies are Elite
This year I became a knitter. While I only started in November and know only two types of stitches, I’m still proud of myself. As much as I love reading, I needed a hobby that wasn’t only engaging my mind. I wasn’t planning on becoming a hiker or a backpacker. I just needed something to do with my hands.
Welcome to knitting! The land of yarnovers, increases, and loose stitches. I love that my hands do the work instead of my mind. I can sit in silence while I do it. Or I can listen to a podcast. I love listening to the Pride and Prejudice review podcast. We should all prioritize our recreation because it’s part of our health and wellbeing. It’s our way to releasing stress and focusing on something other than our problems.
Related Post: What I’ve Learned in Fall 2021
Love is a Lived Theology
I actually first mentioned this to a friend in an email. I was reminiscing on my trip back to Charlottesville for a friend’s wedding, which you can read here, and I just had that realization at Grit, the coffee shop. Love is a lived theology. It’s greater than an idea that movies and advertisements sell us. It’s the medicine brought over for a friend’s who is sick. It’s the letter of tea sent by a dear friend from their favorite place. It’s the string of emails tethering two people together who are miles apart. We don’t just believe in love. We act in love. Act in the interest of the other over the interest of ourselves. That’s what it means when I say love is a lived theology.
Embodiment is Healing
If 2022 taught me anything, it’s that I am not integrated and I haven’t been for a very long time. Integration or embodiment is that connection between mind and body and acting in line with your truest self. When I say “truest self,” I do not actually mean happiest self. I mean that you act in accordance with your true values. That what you say and what you do are actually aligned.
Only living from your mind or from your body isn’t healthy. You can live this way. I know I have. But it’s not your healthiest self. I have always been a thinker. Some people are feelers. Others are doers. But I think. I honestly have thought my way through my emotions, rather than feeling through them. This year was a wake up call to all the ways I’ve been living in fear, and all the ways I wasn’t really feeling my feelings.
Obedience Doesn’t Guarantee Happiness
In the sci-fi show 12 Monkeys, Dr. Cassandra Railly is trying to stop a plague before it happens. Though she knows a pandemic will wipe out billions of people, no one believes her. And the people who do believe her want to stop her before she stops the pandemic. (I would like to say this show was made before 2020 ever happened, and it’s actually more focused on time travel than the pandemic. Highly recommend.) Cassandra is dedicated to her cause, but that doesn’t mean it’s not costly.
When I said no to the fellowship opportunities I applied for in the spring, I knew I was doing the right thing. What I didn’t know is what it would cost me. It’s easy to think that doing the right thing will work out. It’s just as likely that it won’t. The real question becomes whether or not we will do the right thing. Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood up to Hitler and he was executed. We can’t measure obedience by the outcome. What we should consider is our commitment to doing the right thing.
Related Post: 22 Things I Learned Before I Turned 22
God is a God of Breadcrumbs
God is a storyteller. The best one I know. As any author, He places little crumbs for us to catch. I’m the worst at finding these breadcrumbs. That’s another reason for a reflection. I find the breadcrumbs looking back instead of on the way there. While we don’t get the details right away, we do get tiny glimpses. Maybe that looks like a word that keeps popping up. Or an idea that you’ve been sitting on for years. Or a sense that you should move someplace. Or a nudge to do something random.
The story I wrote about that friend I met in philosophy class isn’t a finished one. But I do think it’s a breadcrumb. For what? I do not know. The older I get, the more I see the ways that I have been led to where I am now. And I believe that I will be led wherever I’m going next.
- Going to Israel in May
- Graduating in May
- Reading 70 books
- Publishing 36 blog posts
- Creating a podcast for my thesis
- Going to 3 concerts: Hippocampus, The Story So Far, and Citizen
- Fasting for the first time
- Travels to Durham, Goshen, Charlottesville, and Canada
One thought on “What I Learned in 2022”
I would like to be as good at reflection as you are. I will practice.