Light precedes every transition. Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning // Teresa Tsalaky
I started 2017 dancing and singing. Dancing to music I didn’t recognize. With people I’d only known a few short months, yet felt like family. And in a place I’d never been before. Looking back, I can now see how those things might have revealed the year that would soon unfold…
I would say that the year 2017 brought more transition than books I own. That’s a lot…and maybe just a little bit exaggerated. But still, the point is: I’d never experienced so much transition in any other single year of my short 24 years of life. And with all those lovely, rose-colored transitions (not), came a slew of hard lessons, good lessons, fun lessons, adventurous lessons, and annoying lessons. Pretty much all the lessons really. Ultimately, 2017 was a year of learning. Learning more of what made me tick. Learning what it really means to trust. Learning what to do when the ground beneath me starts to give way. Learning honesty and the pain of opening past wounds. Learning patience (!!!). I could probably keep going, but you get the point.
One of the words spoken to me at the beginning of 2017 was JOY. And that really excited me! I was looking forward to a year where joy spilled out into every crevice of my life, leaving a bright glow in its wake. The previous few years brought death to two of the most important men in my life, and I was desperate for the light that joy radiates. In my mind, a year of joy meant nothing bad could happen. That I was finally being given a reprieve and everything was going to go my way.
Instead, I got something even better: learning more of what it means to CHOOSE joy. Lucky for me, almost NOTHING ended up going my way and a few disappointments were scattered about. Of course, it’s ridiculously simple to be joyful when life is sweet and fun and easy. But what about when things don’t go your way? When you don’t get that job or promotion? When a close friend decides to become distant? When you see the people you love most hurting? Spoiler alert: it is NOT easy to feel joy through all those. But you know what, I learned more about joy through all of these plus some than I ever have when life was seemingly perfect.
When I was in New Mexico and then South Korea, I felt like I was operating life from a place I’ve never experienced before. Each day had a flexible schedule, tasks to be done, ministry to take place, people to build relationships with, meetings to be a part of, etc. I was removed from every shred of comfort I once had and thrown into new experiences, new people, and new places. I didn’t have to think about buying groceries or paying the bills. I didn’t have to think about cleaning the house. I didn’t have to think about how to prioritize my time between various friends and family. There was a freedom in all that that I haven’t realized until now. How complicated life seemed at the time, but finally realizing how lucky I was to spend 8 weeks solely ministering to others and myself. But then, like all things, that had to come to an end, leaving room for a new time to begin.
Leaving Texas, I had one plan. And you bet there was no back up plan. Looking back, I was pretty confident in where I was headed, believing that what I wanted was finally going to happen. Plot twist, things did not in fact go that way. The job I was pursuing was offered to another, leaving me dazed and full of questions. Among those many questions, “what’s next, God?”
The best thing about being obedient to the Lord and trusting in Him always is the ability to continue on in the face of failure and disappointment, knowing that there is still a path much greater than the one you first dreamed up. I had the supreme promise from a good God that there was indeed a way for me, that which only my footprints could fulfill. And so, even in the unknowing, I continued on, believing that soon enough the first signs of a trail would be revealed to me. Before long (but of course that which felt like an eternity), an opportunity rose above the others in an obvious way only short of “this way, Tarah” arrows pointing all around it.
Which brings me to where I am today, in probably the most consistent season of my life to date. At first, I resented the consistency. I wanted action, adventure, and big plans; but instead, I got a set schedule, a desk, and a commitment. There was a time when those 3 words would have sent me wildly running for the hills. Now, however, I’m learning of the beauty that resides in each. From the self-discipline that emerges realizing that there are others depending on me, to the love that flows out of my good God knowing exactly what was needed to further refine me.
And so, even in the wrestling of remaining consistent, I relish in these lessons that my Dad is continuing to teach me, realizing that each step I take is bringing me further along the trail God has designed for me.