Rivers in the wasteland
This past weekend, I spent the weekend with some of my dearest friends roadtripping to Marfa, TX. If you haven't heard of it, Marfa is this tiny town in the middle of no-where Texas. It's famous for the Marfa Lights, these strange lights that float above the land and come and go at various times. It's a funky town filled with interesting people. None of that really has anything to do with my post today.
The reason my friends and I headed out this weekend was two-fold. One, we needed a break from our normal lives. Needed to see something different and get some rest and perspective. But more importantly, we were heading to Marfa to continue something that has become a tradition for us. At the beginning of each new year, we take some time to reflect on the past year and to look forward to the new year. We also take some time to speak truth to each other and to tell each other how we have seen growth and change in each other.
So on Saturday afternoon, after eating some amazing greek food from a super sketchy food truck, we all piled onto the tiny bed in the retro trailer we had rented and started talking. Surrounded by the desert of West Texas, we talked through the desert some of our lives were in 2014, the joy, the highs, the lows. There was laughter and plenty of tears. 2014 was hard for all of us in our own way. We have walked through death, disappointment, confusion, sin, pride, depression, shame, and heartache this year. Most of us said "good riddance" to 2014. However, after we finished recapping our years, we moved on to talking about what God had done in us in the past 12 months, and what the other three girls had seen change in us and how we had grown this past year. And you know what? God did some incredible work in the midst of so much pain. He gave us places of acceptance rather than shame. He brought life from dead things. He showed up in big ways for each of us. He brought one of our girls her husband this year (8 more weeks Ashley!) and he took one of us on the grandest adventure of her life. He broke one of us from deep sin that had controlled her life for too long. And for another he brought beautiful restoration.
We cried many tears on Saturday afternoon. Tears of painful memories, and tears of joy for the beauty that we received from ashes, for the rivers we had seen in the wasteland. It's amazing to me the beauty that can come from pain. The hard things felt SO hard this year. They felt like they would never end. It made it hard to breathe somedays. But, I am seeing now, that pain and heartache are places where God shows up. I learned a new dependance on him this year. I learned that I am more brave and that God is stronger than I ever knew. I learned more of who I was in the pain than I ever have from a joyful moment. In leaning into the difficulty of this year, rather than running away, my sweet friends and I grew, we changed, we have more empathy, we appreciate joy in a new way.
During the weekend, we listened to our favorite band as a group, needtobreathe. Two songs from their current album touched the four of us deeply. One is Wasteland, talking about being in that place where you just have a small crack of light and are holding on. This was my theme song this year, I listened to it maybe a thousand times. And the other is Multiplied. I'll end with my prayer for this year can best be represented with the beginning of the chorus:
God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Halleluiahs be multiplied.