I always feel reflective at Christmas time. I don’t know why this is, exactly, but I think (at least in recent years) it has to do with the fact that I come home from break to a room that is “mine” but that hasn’t quite caught up to the Andrea who is now. Does this make sense? Inevitably, I find myself spending an afternoon fingering through old journals, photographs, and letters. Today was such an afternoon. The house has been quiet—mom, dad, and Luke took naps for awhile while I stayed in my room organizing and packing. “My room” in the new house isn’t really mine. The Andrea who grew up here (actually, in the old house would be more accurate) is contained in boxes and crates that are now stacked in the closet. Of course, I started un-taping the boxes so I could do some remembering. I found my old journals. I was lost in their pages for awhile…
Two years ago at this same time I was doing some similar acts of recollection and reflection. After a skype date with Michelle, I took her advice and spent some time thinking about the past year before the new one crept in and I was swallowed by a fresh school year (that would have been spring semester 2008, shortly after my return from Africa).
The remarkable thing about Christmas is that it demands a slower pace—space to stop (at least it ought to). I’ve been doing some thinking about the Christ-child come down to a world in need of love and direction; to relationships in need of healing (above all, to restore humankind’s relationship with God); to a future in need of hope. Last night, at one o’clock in the morning, my brother and I lay in our beds (it’s our Christmas eve tradition to sleep in the same room), awake in my dark little bedroom. We talked. We talked about life; about truth; about learning and growing; about family; about friends; about the future. And I thought about the people we live with on this earth—friends, family, strangers…whoever. We are always impacted by people—by relationship. I praise my God for relationships that have turned me upward and moved me onward, toward a home that is lasting and a love that is sure. As you might guess, when I read those pages of my dusty old journal, I praised. I want to share a portion I wrote about “people that changed me” because I have been thinking similar thoughts here, in 2009 (almost 2010)—thoughts about the power and gift of relationship, redeemed and provided by the One Who Is…
“God used so many people in my life this passed year [the year is 2007]. Family and friends that supported so many different decisions and steps of faith! I’m grateful to Mom and Dad for their prayer and patience, as they believed in me and for me—both at Moody and in Africa. At Moody so many incredible people shaped me—the girls on my hall, guys on the brother floor…key people in particular.
Michelle taught me to be vulnerable and open up—to share the “deep things.” She challenged me to be honest before God—an area of my life that has grown so much.
Melissa challenged me to learn about having real faith—lived not for others but for a watching God. She taught me what love is all about and what it means to have faith, patience, and hope in people. She taught me a lot about friendship and living in community—the importance of prayer, fellowship with God, and reading His Word.
Wendy encouraged me to be myself; saint, sinner, and all. She reminded me of both the beauty and the offense of the Gospel, and the necessity of both. She taught me to maintain an excitement for the things of God and to develop an authentic faith, rooted in truth but uniquely mine.
Zach taught me a lot about compassion and being heartsick for the world. He challenged me to think outside of myself—asking for God’s love and heart for a hurting world. He helped keep me “globally aware.” He showed me how to think big and ask good questions; to apply Scripture to my life by delving deeper. He challenged me in personal faith: hearing God, listening, and obeying.
So many faces and figures in Africa played a huge role in my life: shaping, poking, and prodding…
Hallie and Hannah, were “rock-friends” who believed in me, were excited for me, loved and encouraged me. They challenged me by asking questions of me—listening to stories and memories, wanting to hear, dreaming with me, sharing in life. They shared life on a deeper level by sharing their hearts and growing our friendship. They are loyal friends, eager to live and love. God, for all these people I am extremely grateful. I love them so much. I am honored by their friendships.”
That was two years ago and I am blessed to say that I still consider it a privilege to know these dear friends. I am even more honored by their friendships and the role they have each played in my life. I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on this past year. Who, this year, has moved your life, challenged your thinking, and “pilgrimmed” with you? I have yet to sit down and journal names and influence for this year but already I think of many...mariah, sarah, lacy, zach, kira, whitney, mark, hannah, hallie, and others...the list grows. not only friends and peers but now professors, teachers, siblings (i.e. sister!), etc.
What a gift people are.
Tomorrow I fly up north with mom and dad. I have loved spending time this break catching up and just BEING with Hannah, Mark, Kyle, Allie, Eric, and Isaac…and then, of course, Luker and mom and dad :)