This has been another crazy year with my youth ministry work, grad school, playing music, and trying to keep up with friends and family. There are a few things that I am so grateful for this year that have helped me to grow and change as a person for the better.
One thing that has changed me the most is the graduate program that I’m in. I’ve learned so much from all the classes that I took this year. I feel so much more knowledgeable about my faith and now understand the “why” behind beliefs instead of just accepting something just because someone told me to. We are taught how to think for ourselves and how to discover and search for answers to the many questions about faith issues. Theology is faith seeking understanding and the search for truth is a lifelong journey. We can’t pretend or insist that we already know everything there is to know about God and faith. There’s always more we can discover and learn. In fact, the more I learn about life, the more I realize how much there is about this life that I don’t know and may never know.
As for me, all I know is that I know nothing. ~Socrates
This has taught me to be humble and to be more open to learning new things. Even if I don’t agree with the ideas or beliefs of others, I recognize the importance of still learning about what they think and believe. Everyone has their own life experiences and the more we can make the effort to understand where someone else is coming from the more we can realize that we actually have more in common with each other than we think.
A few of the classes I took this year also really inspired me to become more aware of what goes on in the world and fueled my passion for social justice. We are lucky to live a privileged life here in the U.S. but in other parts of the world there are so many people who struggle for even the most basic of life’s necessities like food and water. I’ve really pushed my students this year to learn about social justice issues going on in the world and to make a difference, even if it’s in small ways. Our theme for this year is, “Make a Difference.” I hope at least some of my passion has rubbed off on them. I believe that we are all called to be the face of Christ to the world by helping others and loving others deeply.
Something else that I’ve been so thankful for is real and lasting friendship. I’ve learned a few life lessons about friendship this year that have challenged me but also helped me to grow as well. I’ve begun to recognize just how much of a blessing my friends are in my life and how much they care about me.
Friendship is a blessing in any life. For believers it is also one of the ways God communicates God’s own friendship. But for friendship to flourish, neither the friendship nor the friend can be seen as an object to be possessed. One of the best gifts to give a friend is freedom. ~James Martin
Most of my closest friends live in far away places at the moment and yet I’ve still managed to maintain those relationships and stay connected with their lives. I guess I can thank technology for helping with that! Since moving out here several years ago, it has been a struggle to find meaningful, real friendships. It’s hard to find a good friend, especially one that you can really connect with. For the true friends I’ve been lucky enough to find, I am so thankful. I wouldn’t have made it through the year without you. I can’t even begin to explain how much even a simple chat over coffee or a skype session can really fill me up with joy. So thank you!
I am also very thankful for a job that I love and find meaningful. It definitely has its challenges and struggles but the fulfillment I get from my ministry has been worth it. The teens I work with always fill my life with laughter and joy. I love watching them grow and discover their unique gifts. I know that they look up to me and I try my best to be a good role model and to encourage them and help them recognize their own worth and value. Every time I see a teen step up into a leadership role I feel so proud. The awesome things these teens accomplish never ceases to amaze me!
One last thing…
Ok, I have to admit something. This summer I had to move out of my apartment and I debated on what city to move to. I finally decided to move to Forest Grove because it seemed like my only option. I was so resistant at first because I had never lived in a small town before and could not bear the thought of being so far away from a big city! However, I soon found myself secretly enjoying the small town life and the joy that came from feeling more like a local. I love that Forest Grove is tucked away in the country, away from the busyness of traffic, shopping malls, and people always in a hurry. So as much as I like to outwardly complain about the lack of fun things to do in Forest Grove, I’ve really grown to love where I live… and I’m very thankful for discovering that.
I have so many more things to be thankful for this year that I wasn’t able to include…but perhaps another time!
Thanks for reading.
a girl who dreams