For a whole year I didn’t hang a single thing up in my room. Nothing at all. To some this may not seem like anything of significance. I know plenty of people who are quite satisfied with bare walls. But usually that’s just not me. I love color. Every dorm room or apartment I’ve had over the past five years, the first thing I did when I moved in was spend one to two weeks painting tons of art to hang on the walls.
But from May 2019 to May 2020 not a single thing hung on my bedroom walls. What I feel should’ve been a time of excitement for the future in front of me, was instead a deep fear and sadness over unmet expectations for what life after college would be like. Honestly, it’s was lonelier than I expected it to be. It wasn’t as easy and natural to find people my age to hang out with.
Right out of college, I had a summer job at a kids camp, and then near summer’s end I couldn’t find any jobs in any thing I felt called to. My heart has always been with kiddos, and in recent years I’ve been very moved by the brokenness of the foster care system. But with a theology degree, as one might imagine, it was incredibly difficult to find a job in social work. So I kept working as a kindergarten after school teacher, started substitute teaching, uber driving, grocery shopping for people, and interning at a church a few days a week. (I seriously know that I only made it through that season because of God, because my schedule was insane!!!)
Then, this year I started working full time at the church that had intitally started out as an intern job to temporarily pay the bills. God threw me a serious curveball with that one. I was pretty adamant that I didn’t want to work at a church long term at this point in my life, and yet God changed my heart.
Despite, being drawn to stay and walk into this job, this year was incredibly hard, as it has been for all of us. I had no idea how to do my job in a pandemic. I questioned whether I was supposed to be there many, many times over the past year.
Then came June. Cadence and I started leading an online small group for young adult women. This group has flourished and grown into something I never imagined it would. Initially it was supposed to be a short term group, but here we are seven months later and we are still meeting together! As these gals have brought so much joy and sweet community to my life, they have also made me so much more aware that there are so so so many other people in their twenties who have no community their age, especially after college. My heart has entangled itself in a strong desire to see other young adults experience genuine, life-giving community—and ultimately for them to know that they are an important part of the body of Christ and there’s a place for them. Looking back over this year, I can see how God was preparing me for what I’m doing now. I think if he would’ve revealed anything sooner I wouldn’t have been able to handle it.
This very day I turned twenty-four, though I have been processing my birthday for the past few weeks (read “birthdays make me sad” to hear the other side of this story). I asked my dear friend Cadence if she would help me capture photos that represented how I’ve felt about this year of my life. Or at least how I feel now.
Much of the past few years have felt like I’m running around with a shovel, digging wherever there’s soil, trying to find a place to plant myself. Just an unshakeable restlessness.
But today the words that embody where I’m at are hopeful and blooming.
Looking around me, I see that I have a good job that I’m passionate about–and that alone is something to be so grateful for because it’s a privilege to do something you love for a living. I am surrounded by a ministry team that is silly, loving, honest, convicting, and that desire as much as I do to love God and love people. Second, even though it’s not for forever, I get to live with sassy and sweet Cadence, sharing this challenging, yet beautiful stage of life with her. New friendships have come from unexpected places, and old friendships have thankfully grown into something deeper and different as we have changed.
Today, my shovel is on the ground and my toes are planted deep in the ground. Restlessness is starting to fade, and a settledness is emerging from the ground.
Today, my wall is covered in art. Today, I am hopeful, because no matter what tomorrow holds, I know that God made that day so I can rejoice and be glad in it.
Today, I’m smiling because God knows my weaknesses and still chooses me.
Today, I am blooming.
Here’s a few of the photos from our shoot today. If you didn’t know—I’m in love with flowers so this was a dream. One photo gave me so many Lord of the Ring vibes and that was even dreamier.