dec. xiii, mmxvi


Decisions make the world advance, regress and change minute by minute and second by second. Obviously, each one of us makes decisions every single day of our lives, often thousands of them. Decisions can bring people immense joy, deep sadness, anger, happiness, confusion and pain. Think about all of the decisions you've made this past year. How many of those decisions helped people? How many brought people joy? How many brought people pain? Which decisions gave life and which ones took it? This paragraph has been my mind for the better part of the past three or so weeks. 

My fifth semester of college ended about a week ago, but it seems like the stress of college and all of the work I was doing has simply transferred over to other aspects of my life. My vision has cleared about the mound of work I was doing, and now I can see many of the things that matter more in life than the work that clutters our lives. In fact, the past week has amplified the thoughts of how the year 2016 has been. If I’m being honest, this is a year that I am not proud of. If I could give this year a theme or title, it’d be “Difficult Conversations” or “I’m going to say 'I don’t know what to tell you' in order to hide what I truly feel and want to say or do.”

Don't get me wrong, I’ve had so many bright spots this year. I’d be a fool to think this year was a waste or anything short of wonderful. I had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania, New York City, South Texas, Orlando and countless other beautiful places around the Southeast. I finally feel like I’m in college doing what I’m supposed to do. I became a freelance photographer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. God has provided an endless amount of opportunities and beautiful experiences that I in no way, shape or form deserve to have. 

But even with those incredible things, I am still not proud of this year. I’m not proud of my character. I’m not proud of my integrity. I’m not proud of my decision making. I decided for the third straight fall semester to stiff-arm God in the face and say, “I got this.” And here I sit again, at the end of another fall semester, knowing I pushed God out of the picture so I could run my life how I thought it needed to be. How have I still not learned? People warned me about doing this again. People that cared about me told me. Of course I didn’t listen because I thought I knew what was best. But yet again, I’m here, in the same exact spot as the past two years. 

I don’t know if it’s simply the season of Christmas and the beautiful purpose of it, but this time of year has seemed to open my eyes to what my life has been for the past four months of the fall semester. I finally wake up and think, “Oh. Wow. I’ve really, really, really messed up again.” But you know what’s beautiful? God still loves me. He still wants me. He still cares about me. He still gives me grace. And you know what I've done after He continues to give Himself to me? I stiff-arm Him again. I keep taking advantage of Him. That’s no way to treat the one that gives you breath and knows every single step of your life to the millisecond. The stiff-arm comes from me the minute I set my gaze on the things of this world instead of His glory and guiding hand. 

So here I sit. I’m typing my thoughts and feelings of my life from the last 347 days, and if you’ve read this far, I hope that you know I try not to throw myself a pity party all the time. I just want to be honest and genuine. But get this. My goal for this year was to be genuine to people. How’d that go? I haven’t been real this year. I haven’t been honest with people. I’m so easily swayed by what other people think and believe. I’m like a flag in the wind swaying this way and that way. More importantly, I haven't been honest with myself. Not being honest with myself has prevented me from being honest with others. 

I haven't been honest with myself because I have believed the lies of the enemy. I’ve allowed what the enemy says about me to reside over what my Father in Heaven says about me. I am His child. I am His son. I am His. I’m not a waste. I’m not a failure. I’m not worthless. You see, God gives second chance, upon second chance, upon second chance. This world rarely gives you a second chance, much less a third or fourth. Why would I want to look to, or put my faith in, anything apart from God for strength, guidance and hope?

So as I think about every difficult conversation, event and decision from this past year, I see that I have a lot of “work” to do. That “work” will come in the form of spending time with my Savior. He will be guiding my steps, and He will be leading me beside still waters. He will make my crooked paths straight, and He will restore my sight to see Him clearly. I shouldn't need to realize this at the end of another year. I should realize this before it ever becomes an issue. But God will always be there to remind me of who He is and where I’ve been. He’s never left me. He’s been trying to help the entire time. I’ve just been deciding not to let Him. Now, have your way God.