I am an enneagram type 4. This won’t mean a lot to many people but if you know, you know. I have big feelings. So, when a year draws to close and a new one begins, I fall into a reflective mood.
Perhaps I should backtrack a little.
In the last few months I have said goodbye to the part of London I have lived in for 31 years (on and off). I said goodbye to the school I have worked in for 10 years (on and off). Our home has been packed up, cleaned and left behind. A new home has welcomed us. Unpacking has taken place.
I began therapy. I broke up with my therapist. My husband began a new job, we were welcomed into a new community and Christmas happened. I started having anxiety. Like a cage wrapped around my chest.
Alongside all this, I found a shoebox.
A shoebox of photos. Photos from 20 years ago. Photos of a teenage me. Photos of a girl heading full steam into adulthood. Laughing, drinking, trying out new hairstyles. Falling in love. Dreaming. A girl confronted with the mess of divorce. A girl embarking on a new phase of life.
With all that has happened in the last few months, perhaps it is understandable that I am feeling tender towards that girl. Nostalgic for a time when all my friends loved within 5 miles of me and we had endless days to talk, dream, laugh and get inspired.
But I think it is more than that. I am a little bit lost at the moment. I know this feeling well. When we headed off to theological college, it was similar. My compass points weren’t quite in order. Infertility had robbed my security in the future. I remember the thrill of a new beginning but I also remember the fear of being the same person in a different situation and there were no safety nets for me. No people who knew me.
Feeling lost doesn’t frighten me anymore. I know that this will pass. The truth is, the pain of this season will hopefully bear more fruit as I learn more about myself and become comfortable with not having all the answers. Being lost may lead me to wander into something new.
As the new year arrives, I am making no resolutions. In the past, my resolutions often stemmed from a lack of self-care. I didn’t love my body so I told myself I needed to change it. That it was to blame. I didn’t speak kindly to myself. I was my own harshest critic so when any further criticism came it validated those thoughts. ‘Of course I don’t have children, why would I? I can’t even look after a cat without losing it’.
But this year, I am not looking to change who I am. Instead, I want to know this person made in God’s image. I want to understand myself better. I want to honour teenage me and be kinder to myself. I am the same person I was last year. My body got me to this place so I will thank it. My mind got me into some excellent conversations so I will continue to stimulate it. My heart continued to push me into deeper relationships and I will honour it by loving with unabashed vigour.
May the coming year bring each one of you new opportunities to discover the person you were created to be.
I will see you on the flipside my friends. I will be the one with the shoebox, a box of tissues, a cosy blanket and willing ear to hear your stories.