Every year I write the same thing.
Something along the lines of “I feel like I just wrote last year’s!”
And every year that sentiment never changes.
Years are strange. How you have no idea what will happen. No idea who you will meet. No idea what is going to make you laugh or what is going to make you cry. No idea where you might end up.
I would have never imagined in a million years some of the things that happened this year.
That is the funny thing about new years. About life.
So many things will change. But the Lord truly always remains the same.
He is always faithful. Always good. Always in control of the new years. He is already in 2018, ready to hold my hand through it.
This is the 8th “End of Year Blog” I have written. That somewhat feels hard to believe, but, at the same time it doesn’t. 2009 feels like a lifetime ago. In many ways, I don’t even know who that person was. I feel that if we were to meet today, that I would scarcely recognize her or have much in common with the young actress and college student.
My how these eight years have changed you, Shara Lewis.
And how, in many ways, you are still the same.
Tears welled up in my eyes and I felt a little sick just now trying to pen the words to begin my journey through this past year. I don’t want to return to it. Not to the beginning. But I will.
When the clock struck midnight and 2017 began, I was surrounded with friends. I had donned a beautiful dress earlier that night, although I had nowhere to be. I’d always wanted to dress up for Near Year’s. So I did. Earlier that day, I had ran a 5K. My roommate and I had spent the night watching Parks & Rec, eating chips and dip, and setting off (probably) illegal fireworks in our apartment’s parking lot. It was a really great day. And a wonderful evening.
But I couldn’t breathe.
The first half of 2017 I couldn’t breathe.
2016 ended with heartbreak, and 2017 beginning didn’t make it go away.
One night in January, my roommate came in my room and stayed with me all night because I couldn’t stop crying. The pain was unbearable.
I had a permanent ache in my chest that didn’t subside for months. I never thought it would ever go away. I never thought that I wouldn’t hurt anymore.
But the Lord restores broken things. Broken hearts. Shattered pieces He will mend. Albeit slowly.
Perhaps that was the theme for 2017. Broken things.
I’m tired. I’m tired of my life being a series of broken things.
But God is still good in the ruined life.
As always, in no particular order:
New Years 🙂
Heartbroken and terrified, I moved to Rock Hill, SC for 9 weeks to be a student teacher at Westminster Catawba Christian School’s lower school. It was hard. It was lonely. Exhausting. Overwhelming. And it was there that I experienced the darkest moments of my life.
The heartbreak was unbearable. I hated that I couldn’t just “get over it.” I hated that it hurt so badly. I hated that I wasn’t okay.
My mind was constantly filled with lies. That I was worthless. That my life was worthless. That I was treated like trash because that’s what I was. I cried and cried. I would sit in my car and weep. Sometimes screaming out to the Lord for some relief from it all. Oftentimes, the physical pain would increase as I was praying for it to go away. I was overwhelmed with pain and the lies that it was never going to get better. That my life was always going to consist of pain. That God allowed my body to be chronically ill and He allowed my heart to be ripped to shreds. And that was only the beginning. What pain could possibly be lurking around the corner for me? I didn’t want to know. I just wanted out.
And I tried to get out.
But I failed.
And the darkest moment of my life passed by.
Student teaching is much a blur. But God loved me in those dark 9 weeks. He loved me in the form of 50 3rd and 5th graders. From the moment I walked into their classrooms, those kids loved me. They loved me. And I loved them. So much. I loved teaching them. Sometimes when I thought I couldn’t make it through the pain, it would be my turn to teach. And for 45 minutes or so, the pain went away. I didn’t hurt anymore. I could breathe again.
The Lord knew I needed them.
I am forever thankful for those 3rd and 5th graders. My “babies” and my “kids.” I didn’t deserve their love. Their love was grace upon grace.
I turned 28 and I got another tattoo. That’s three, if you are counting. My mother asked, “Are you done yet?”
I kept trying to become a viral meme.
One day, y’all. One day.
I was published (IN PRINT). This was a dream come true. I’ve always always always wanted to be published in print. I wrote an article. The editor changed it a bunch (my friend and I still laugh hysterically and make fun of some of it), and voila! I was featured in a magazine. I was thrilled beyond words.
I was also published on Relevant. I tried for years to get published on their website. So, again…thrilled beyond words.
Friends, beach trips, and tap dancing.
I graduated with my Masters in Bible Teaching.
I didn’t want to walk. I was so ready to be far away from the place where so much pain had taken place. Where I had experienced, for the first time, the ugliness within Christian communities. Where I had been so injured. And let down. Where I had seen the fake. The ignoring of issues. The whitewashed tombs.
But I walked. And I am thankful I did. There was a lot of good that came from my time at CIU. It unfortunately ended on a bad note, but I don’t regret going there. I was hurt by Christians at CIU more than I’ve ever been hurt by anybody in my life. But I was also loved far more at CIU than I have ever been loved in my life.
I walked. But I never intend on walking back there again.
Remember how I retired from camp? Yeah. Funny story. The heartbreak culminated in an engagement. I was thankful for that rock bottom. Because I knew that he finally couldn’t hurt me anymore. Around that time, in between paper writing and counseling sessions, I started to miss camp. I sent my friend a text saying, “Hey, I know this would never happen–but if an actor drops out, let me know.” She laughed in agreement.
A few weeks later I got a phone call. An actor had dropped out. And I was asked if I would like the job.
And ten years after my first summer working as a camp actor, I said “yes.”
This summer was the greatest summer of my life. I don’t say that lightly. It really was. It was my 6th summer working camp, and I had never been on a team like this one. The Lord used this team to help mend all that was broken in me. I loved every moment. I am forever thankful for this summer. For GENERATE Camp. For laughter. Friendships. For getting to be on stage again. For getting to create and make people laugh. For conversations with campers. For the dead coming to life. For driving a 15 passenger van. For timed Walmart runs. For Mojo Burrito at the bottom of Lookout Mountain. For white water rafting. For walking under waterfalls. For early mornings and late nights. For restoration.
It was the greatest summer of my life.
I started my first year as a teacher. It’s been hard, to say the least. I want to add the typical, “But it’s been so worth it.” But it’s hard at this point to say that. I know that God’s Word never returns empty and will accomplish that for which it is purposed. But I didn’t see or feel any effect of my teaching this year. I never left one day feeling “fulfilled” or “Wow, that was worth it.” But I know that the Lord works despite our feelings. And I know without a shadow of a doubt, that I poured my heart out this year. That I worked tirelessly to write engaging lesson plans, to love my students, and to teach them the Bible. I know I failed time and time again. I know I was the hot mess that every first year teacher is. But I tried. I really really tried.
The best thing about moving home to Louisville is that my entire family is here. My older brother moved back to Louisville with his wife, and I live with them and my roommate in our “party house.” (more like a house with no furniture, haha) My sister moved home in June, and she gave birth to Carter Knox on December 7th. I’m so proud of her. And I’m so thankful that I get to drive 5 minutes to hold him. And I can’t wait to love him his whole life.
Another year of the ruined life. But there has been a lot of beauty. A lot of good. A lot of God’s continued faithfulness in the midst of pain.
I hope to write more this year. I hope to keep learning. Keep growing. Keep healing. To not be so afraid. To keep becoming more comfortable in my skin.
The last year of the 20’s is upon me. Yikes. How strange. Life is strange, isn’t it?
Almost forgot. I always write an update on the “love life.” There may or may not be a boy. But if there were to be one, he is not for social media yet. Or blogs. But if he were to exist, it should be noted that he is kind. Patient. Charming. That he bears with me through the broken pieces. That he is helping me learn to trust again. And if he were to exist, that would be what you get for now.
Seven years ago I asked the Lord to ruin my life. He did.
And I am still thankful.