We are on the cusp of new year: 2016. A year of new possibilities, opportunities, triumphs, failures, births, jobs, classes, etc. It is exciting to look forward to what is to come and to make resolutions for a fresh start. However, I want to take a moment to look back with a dash of nostalgia in this heart full of gratitude.
In the spring, I learned the importance of leisure the hard way by not having any whatsoever. I spent my times hitting the books, writing papers, and serving the organizations I was involved in. It was an extraordinarily fruitful time, but also a wearying one. I was also encouraged more than I ever have been by my professors to keep pursuing my education, and their confidence in my capabilities made the strenuous semester well worth it.
When summer came, I immersed myself in books and Netflix, and perhaps reveled in the leisure a little too much. By the second week of summer, I was ready to return to school and being busy. Instead, I tried to take my mother’s insistence that I didn’t have a job or take classes with a reflective mind. I spent a lot of time reading and readying myself for my time abroad, and I have to say I’m glad my mother forced me to take a step back from the hectic busyness to enjoy my summer.
Then came Ireland. Oh, Ireland. The first weeks were a headache and a half trying to adjust, but once I acclimated to the weather and the culture, I relished every experience. I traveled solo to Italy and England – in the same week. I let go of a lot of my anxiety and fear. I learned how to sleep through any amount of partying. I met people from all over Europe and delighted in their diverse cultures. I was welcomed by the kindest Irish people.I saw beauty in every green hill, fluffy sheep, and breathtaking lake. I became a pilgrim not only spiritually, but physically, to Knock and Rome and Assisi. I spent authentic quality time with Christ, relying on Him while all I held dear were thousands of miles away.
It wasn’t just a trip. It wasn’t just a semester in a foreign country. It was the most amazing opportunity and leap of faith I have ever taken. And I am so grateful. I fell in love with a new country not by merely visiting there, but living there. I had time to form habits and get to know the city of Limerick. I teemed with nervous excitement leaving Texas because I didn’t know what I was facing, but I had a heavy heart leaving Ireland because I knew exactly what I left behind.
2015 has been a year of learning and growth for me, both in a classroom and from experiencing the big world beyond the classroom. And now I look forward with joy and anticipation to what 2016 might have in store for me.
I hope you celebrate a very happy new year! May God bless you on your way.