Normally people do boring end-of-the-year letters. That’s not my style. I try not to be boring (not that I always succeed – most days I do in fact feel absolutely boring). So without further ado, here is Charity’s Christmas Letter (or more accurately, a brief and sometimes cryptic rundown of my life in the last twelve months).
We left our non-denominational church and started attending a Baptist Church again. (I grew up in one, but we have bounced around in non-denominational churches ever since.) It has been the best thing that has ever happened to us as a family – our lives, our opinions, our interest in the Bible, have all changed dramatically as a result. I “blame” this church for most of the major developments in my spiritual life over the last eight months, ranging from little things to much bigger things. I am not the same person today that I was last year around this time and I owe it all to our new church. It is one of the most family-knit set of believers I have ever been in, a place where I feel welcomed and as if I have friends each time I walk through the door, a church I look forward to attending and that makes me want to become not only a better Christian, but a better scholar as well.
This summer I went through a rough patch in my faith, in which I took a serious look at whether or not I was indeed saved and that caused me to do some soul-searching to answer the question posed by The Truth Project – “do I really believe what I believe is real?” In other words, do I really believe what I profess to believe? That God is God, that Jesus actually was born, lived, died, and rose again? That He is my only way to heaven? That Christianity is a valid religion and the only way to the truth? Furthermore, is this what I want to choose for my life? For about two weeks I wondered, I searched, I thought, and then I chose Jesus all over again. But emotionally and spiritually, that two week period was the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life, because I knew that in choosing Him, I would have to change even more. I would have to give myself over to Him and His will for my life entirely, and let go of a lot of things that I had been holding onto.
My 95 year old grandmother passed away this summer, leaving me with only one remaining grandparent. It was a hard time for me, but interestingly, most of the crying I did at the funeral was not out of grief but happiness, because I knew at long last the woman whose middle name and initials I share, had been reunited with her mother, father, and husband again. I was actually a little bit envious of Grandma, being in heaven and in the presence of her savior. But mostly, her death was a season of miracles – of healing former hurts in the family, of watching my dad show his sisters absolute grace, and of bringing us all together again.
Thanks to our new church, for the first time, I have young men in my life – young men that I admire, like, and respect for their spiritual wisdom. I have also repaired a relationship that went south for awhile, one in which we are both learning to balance our differences and our strengths as friends. I have drifted away from some people and grown close to others, but mostly God has been teaching me that my eternal friends are certain members of my family. They are the only people I can disagree with and still love unconditionally, and the only people that will be with me “ ’til death do we part.” They are the only people who truly know me, understand me, and accept me for who I am while also encouraging me to be better.
This year, I found out I am an INTJ. It liberated my concerns on a lot of fronts, such as why I do not make easy emotional connections to people, why I am so anti-social, and why I cannot seem to “care much” about so many things. It explained why I like some literary characters much more than others and why some things are far more important to me than other things (romance is not my thing). But it also reminded me of my flaws and showed me areas I need to work on. For those of you who think it would be nice to be an INTJ… it isn’t. We battle perfectionism, disassociation, emotional frustration, and intellectual boredom.
Goals for 2012:
Obviously, to put out another six issues of Femnista and continue growing our readership, but beyond that, to spend more time in prayer and Bible study, to lose the pesky fifteen pounds I put on after I moved out of my parents’ house, to try and have more fun, and to find a literary agent. That really is the one major goal I have for this year, and the one thing I have been procrastinating about since I was sixteen. But this year, I have a plan and I am going to work through it and trust God for the outcome. I’m also going to trust Him that 2012 will be a wonderful year, because without putting too fine a point on it, both from a personal, political, and emotional standpoint, for me 2011 kind of… sucked. Many good things happened, among them good health, decent prosperity in spite of a terrible economic depression, and several instances in which I could literally see the hand of God at work in my life, but I’ll be glad to put 2011 behind me as a year of being in a cocoon, struggling to fight my way out and become a butterfly. It’s a sticky, messy, exhausting sort of business and I’m not out yet!
But I will emerge, and my wings will dry, and then we will see what I am meant to become.