The sun submerged behind a horizon of identical suburban houses, beams of yellow finding their way through my bedroom window and onto the carpet I sat on. My eyes drifted towards a digital clock that collected dust on my nightstand, its numbers reading 5:30. With social media outlets exhausted and my motivation to do my homework nonexistent, I was at a loss of what to occupy myself with. Taking in the environment that had evolved around me for the past seventeen years, my gaze fell upon the spine of a navy blue planner that had recently been given a new home among other forgotten, unfinished journals. Mindlessly, I pushed myself off of the sun-drenched carpet and onto my two feet, making my way towards the shelves that gave shelter to the navy blue planner. Pulling it off the white wooden structure, I stumbled back to my seat where I then whipped it open to the month of January.
Due dates, work schedules, Friday night outings, Saturday morning brunch dates. Within the calendar's boxes, I had written down every step I took throughout the day- every leap, every hesitation.
My eyes scanning every square, I saw the girl I that I started 2018 as.
Hopeful, excited, anxious, doubtful. I saw how I started the year with a full range of emotions. Edges of the planner decorated with resolutions for 2018, I wanted to do everything in my power to make this year a good one. By setting goals to work out, eat healthily, get good grades, save money, and read my Bible consistently, I mapped out my intentions for the coming months.
For a while, these expectations were upheld. Every morning, I had the Breakaway Ministries podcast playing in the background of my thoughts as I muddled through traffic. Every class period, I spent my time diligently working on the assignments my teachers had given me. Every evening, I came home to a protein filled meal, so that later that evening I could run off the day's stresses and annoyances on a treadmill. And two weeks into the year, my self-determination got me a job working at a retirement home.
These new habits continued into the month of February. Flipping through the pages of my planner, I was reminded of the competitions I attended for DECA, how the memories and skills we learned made up for the loss we felt when we weren't able to move on to Nationals. I was reminded of the late nights spent with my people, how even on school nights we'd gather together for some good food and some good laughter. I was reminded of friendships, how people you've known for years can surprise you.
And in March and April's calendars, was a happy, busy girl. I was reminded of spring break spent in fancy hotels, Sunday afternoon interviews for a trip to India, and Wednesday morning meetings for PALS and NHS applicants. I was reminded of late nights spent face timing a good friend, Friday nights at baseball games, and Saturday mornings at Chick-Fil-A. I was reminded of lake views, bear hugs, and coffee dates.
But then, came May. With May, there was a lot of pain.
My eyes scanning the last rows of the month, I was reminded of the altercations I had with two dear friends of mine. I remember the tears. I remember the heartache. I remember the void in my life when they left.
I remember the mornings woken up with my heart beating three times faster than normal, the meals not eaten out of a loss of appetite, the runs ran until my legs gave out.
Luckily, the Summer was full of things to keep me going. Trips to my cousins lake house and to the great state of New York reminded my helpless self that there was still so many adventures to look forward to, weeks spent doing Boot Camp and BYBC reminded my broken self that I still could be used despite my flaws, and a trek to India reminded my lost self that no matter where I went, the strength of God was within me, ready for me to utilize.
Then Summer faded into Fall, and my calendar was marked away with to-dos for school. Within these pages, I was reminded of the hustle and bustle of Junior year, the stresses of getting the grades that colleges would accept, the occasional outings with a select few friends, and the final side glances and goodbyes (to a friend I still miss to this day).
And finally, came December. My fingers pressing back a year's worth of memories to reveal one last month, I peered at an incomplete calendar. With this month, my mind filled in the empty boxes with images of being with friends for hours card games and cookies. My mind filled with images of my mom running thirty potatoes to the sink on Christmas night, her laughs echoing throughout the house.
Closing the navy blue planner, I came to a concluding thought.
I think it's pretty simple, what God was trying to say in these months.
I started - we all started - this year with the intention that we could plan our way to an amazing 2018. Resolutions in the back of our heads as we started the year, we set standards for ourselves saying that if we achieved an acceptable body, an acceptable bible time with Jesus, an acceptable GPA, and acceptable standing with our teachers and peers and coaches and parents- we might just be able to have an acceptable year.
And we planned our days. Every meeting and test and interaction. It didn't even have to be in an agenda, a lot of the time, we planned out each day from the moment we woke up.
We planned. We tried to be in control.
But then I am reminded of Proverbs 16:9, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps". If I take a look at 2018, I can see that none of it was in my hands. Sure I could've studied harder for the DECA competition, I could've decided to never open social media again, and I could've been a better friend, but the fact of the matter is, whatever I did, God took my decisions and used them for good. And seeing the struggle, the fight I put up to hold on to control, I can't help but laugh, as I now understand that He is working out all the details of my day and that control is just an illusion.
And I know that's a bold statement said in a few words, but I encourage you to take a step back and look at your own year, your own agenda for every month. Because I have a hunch that a lot of people get caught up on the illusion of control.
So with that, I hope you take the next year as it comes, that you "just do you and love God and others while doing it", leaving all the nitty gritty up to your heavenly father who loves you.