Sometimes, loss is a really good thing. This year, I’ve said goodbye to a few hindrances and raced on toward new things. As I reflect on the year, I’m encouraged by what I’ve let go of.
1. Some fear
God has stretched me in many ways in 2019. By his grace, I’m leaving behind a pile of broken chains that used to bind me–the fear of being too much for my family, too needy for friends, too broken for healing. I’ve confronted deep worries that have pricked me incessantly like, “what if no man will ever love me?” and “how will I ever live in this city without my family here? What if they forget about me?”
Disclaimer: confronting this stuff is no joke, and dwelling on these fears still frightens me. But in little slivers of grace, God has freed me in incredible new ways. Each time I’ve come to Him in desperation and fear, He has taken my burdens and proven Himself worthy. Each time, I ask myself why I ever feared at all. And while some fear-topics (like community or singleness or even missing family) are still a reality, they don’t have a hold on me like they did this time last year. I praise God for that!
2. Some fitness
Athletically, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself when I completed my running career at Butler in early 2018. So, I just kept doing what I knew. I cut back on workouts, but I continued running the same mileage in the early mornings by myself.
I have and always will love running, but my anxious mind didn’t know how else to cope with stress and so the mileage crept up, the pace sped up, and my joy plummeted. I was forcing myself to run because I was afraid (ahem, #1) of dealing with life in other ways.
That changed this fall. I took a step back from running in order to reset my heart and mind, as well as take a step toward healing my body. But, can I be honest? It was so. freaking. hard.
I relearned how to take my fears to God and how to be still. The experience was and is an exercise in letting God love me as I am–without a facade of worldly accomplishment or fitness to hide behind. And guess what, friends? His love is right here, when we run a half marathon and when we sit on our bums all day. I’m still learning to live in this truth, but it’s an exciting new avenue for me.
Let it be known that 2019 was the year I stopped caring what people thought about Hannah Hartzell.
But I did make some serious progress toward shirking my inner people-pleaser in 2019. For better or worse, I increasingly embraced the passionate (some might say “intense”), creative, quirky woman God has made me to be. I stopped telling people I don’t have time to bake and admitted that I just don’t like it that much. I read a bunch of books, clipped a lot of digital coupons, and explored a lot of trails–even when it meant going by myself.
I further abandoned the pretense that I am (or should be) a perfect, quiet, fashionable woman of God who loves to bake. Heck, we all know I wasn’t great at pretending that stuff anyways. 🙂
5. Pervasive loneliness
This will have a blog post all its own, in time. But I can’t recognize some things I lost this year without thanking God for how He has answered my prayers about loneliness in Indianapolis.
This time last year, I was struggling to find joy in anything. My mind would sooner travel to thoughts of home than it would to something I liked about my new life. I was so lonely for family and begged God to bring change. I knew it was necessary if I would going to keep living in Indy, even in the short term.
He has answered in incredible ways. I have found family through new friendships, my Small Group, and mentorship relationships. Yes, I still miss my family in Ohio. I miss them a lot. But it’s not as loud as it once was. I’m enjoying life again. There’s not a doubt in my mind that God moved powerfully this past year, orchestrating each relationship and situation to bring me into a little web of family in Indianapolis. And I am so very grateful.
What have you gratefully let go of this year? I hope and pray that as we step into a new year of life, we will do so with expectancy and open hands for what the Lord will do.