You have been a strange year.
I started you feeling nervous about upcoming changes, but hopeful. I completed my last semester of college, gave a thirty minute presentation on the awkward topic of emotional porn, and graduated.
I moved back home, started a retail job that gave me what must have been mild panic attacks, and drove to Michigan via Canada with my dad to take my sister back to school.
Thankfully God provided an escape from retail, and I started my first full time job working at a chocolate factory. The week before Christmas I also discovered what it was like to work overtime and clocked in 48 hours (the verdict is hopefully never again).
2016, you haven't been bad, just hard. It was hard to finish college strong. The night before my presentation was spent trying to convince myself that I would not die standing in front of thirty people talking about sex and pornography and not having a heart attack during the presentation. My graduation was simply a blur of goodbyes to beloved friends, professors, and places. During my retail job I experienced the feeling of utter hopelessness. I had to say goodbye to my sister for three months. It was and still has been a struggle to adjust to working full time at a job I am not naturally gifted in nor ever wanted (temporarily or permanently). And though I love my parents it has also been an adjustment to live at home again after being so independent during four years of college.
This is not a pitty party, 2016, just facts. Ever since graduation I have felt like I have been living Plan C.
Plan A: Graduate with a B.A. in Creative Writing (check), marry an amazing young man summer or fall 2016 (un-check), get a cool writing job with a Christian non-profit or publishing company (nope), get short stories and articles published in magazines and literary journals as well as have my blogs explode with traffic (those things haven't happened either), finish my first novel and in the years to come have it published followed by contracts for more novels until I die (You get the pattern. Didn't happen), eventually have some kids (clearly won't happen).
Plan B: Graduate with a B.A. in Creative Writing (check), be fully content with my singleness and embrace that freedom and gift and devote my life to helping other single women (ha), live in Michigan and get an apartment with a good friend(s) (nope), get a cool writing job with a Christian non-profit or publishing company (no), get short stories and articles published in magazines and literary journals as well as have my blogs explode with traffic (yeah, no), finish my first novel and in the years to come have it published followed by contracts for more novels until I die (no), somehow be an influential single person in the Christian writing world without having to do public speaking engagements (hey, I can dream).
Plan C: Graduate with a B.A. in Creative Writing (already happened so good start to plan), live at home because I have no other option (check), work at a chocolate factory because I cannot be idle and have upcoming loan payments (check), every once in a while force myself to write even though I am worn out from working because I WILL finish my novel even if it takes me ten years (check), search for writing jobs in Michigan because even though every day I am here it gets harder to leave, I still want independence (check).
The only thing that has gone according to my plan is graduating from college and convincing my sister to also go to the same college, which quickly backfired as we are in different states again.
You did bring some wonderful things, 2016, that I can't forget. I made new friends, after four years of hard work I graduated from college, I survived my crazy presentation (though I'm still not sure how), I was able to be in a dear friend's wedding, I had many hiking adventures with my dad, a saw a favorite band in concert, I finally finished reading through the entire Bible, I got to touch the top of Whiteface Mountain, and God taught me many lessons about joy and contentment.
However at night I think about my Plan C that I am currently living and can't help feel depressed, ashamed, and often angry at God despite the good times. I didn't want Plan C. I didn't even want Plan B.
But God wants Plan C. I don't know why, but the fact that I am currently living it means he wants it for me. He may even change Plan C. I have a hunch that despite how much I hate it, I may be living Plan Z at the end of my life.
But my Plan C or Plan Z are his Plan A.
In 2017, I want my agenda to die. Though my flesh fights me, I want my plans to be God's plans.
The last book I read in your year, 2016, was "Finding Your Way Through Loneliness" by Elisabeth Elliot, and I fell in love with the following section.
"A bright young woman and I were eating lamb sandwiches. I asked her if she is lonely.
'Lonely? Why should I be?'
'You're single. Most of the single people I know talk about being lonely.'
With a look of surprise and then a laugh she said, 'Oh no. You see, I have a sense of expectancy every day. What does the Lord want to do with me today? I have no agenda of my own.'
No agenda of my own. There is the key to Linda's freedom. I continued to question her. Yes, she said, she knows what loneliness feels like- it's isolation, when you think you can't reach anyone, nobody reaches you, you're cut off. You have your own agenda.
'What do you mean by an agenda?' I asked.
'Thinking there's only one solution and God has to give you that or nothing. You have a closed mind. A closed mind is a closed heart and a closed door.'
Now I recognized the reason for the smile which seems always to light Linda's face. I think it must come from her wholehearted acceptance of God's 'agenda'" (162).
My agenda was Plan A. It was what I demanded from God. It was my one solution to happiness. When almost all of it didn't happen in general or within my time frame, I made Plan B. But God didn't listen to that either.
So now I am living Plan C. But I am praying that my Plan C will simply be God's agenda. I will always write. I will still try to become a published author. God may bless me in the future with a family and many things I desire. But He may not, and I need to be okay with that.
Though I say this with fear, tears, bitterness, and some anger, (God, please forgive me), in 2017 I want a "wholehearted acceptance of God's agenda".