This past year has been the most rewarding and challenging of my life. As I sit here, nestled in my office chair and listening to Bing Crosby, I am bubbling over with gratitude that I made it. I survived. 2016 brought me, personally, so much joy and professionally the ability to completely surrender.
There has never been a time I’ve needed God more or.. sleep!
I could give you our stats: 11 ladies, over a 100 months of sobriety, 2 people committing their lives to Christ. But, I’d rather tell you what this year taught me. A year surrounded by drug addicts, alcoholics, broken parents, angry women and hurting children.
Here are the top 5 things I learned from the first year of the HIA Women’s Program!
- To Love the Difficult
I learned to love people who didn’t necessarily love me, or let’s be real, even like me. It taught me grace and compassion for people who were so lost in the storm they couldn’t see the lifesaver thrown out before them. People disappoint us, frustrate us and sometimes make really bad decisions and that’s ok. I learned that it’s not really about me. When they want what I have to offer they will show up.
- Pain is a Good Thing
This year brought on some of the most painful situations I’ve ever been through. The kind of pain that left me unable to eat and questioning if God mixed up his speed dials when He chose me. The pain gave me no way out, it forced me to lean on those around me. It gave others the opportunity to support me and speak life into me, something I have never allowed before. God didn’t handle things the way I would have (imagine that) but the pain He allowed made me and our program better, gave me a more dedicated dependence on Him.
- Accept What Others are Capable of
We go through moments with people where their presence is essential. We learn what we need to, we grow the way we need to. And sometimes that is it. They were meant to be a substitute teacher not a principal. I learned to not hold on to the way I wanted it to be and, instead, accept the way it was. No longer conning myself with the magnetic pull of denial.
- Celebrate the Little Things
I used to live waiting. Have you ever seen that movie, “Waiting for Godot”? That was me, waiting for that big moment that would change everything, all the while, letting my life pass me by. This year taught me to be present, acknowledge the little things and celebrate the heck out of them. Stop cussing, fist pump! Ate a salad instead of a cheeseburger, high five myself! Finished that book, drink it in! Celebrating the small victories has taught me to see God in everything.
- Character is Everything
One of our girls wrote me a text that said, “I’ve never respected a woman more in my life than you.” After I flipped my phone over to make sure it was mine, it sunk in. These words had never fit into my life. Character and respect were just quotes I posted on my Facebook. God challenged me this year, to add up from all sides. To be the same in front of others as I am behind the scenes. To do the kindest thing possible in all situations. Because if I had no standard neither would the girls that follow me.
Next year brings 25 ladies under my protective umbrella, first year of marriage and lots of coffee and I know I will go on learning. Hoping to someday be so grace filled that it looks like wisdom.
BIG thanks to ALL of you who helped make this first year possible. Hears to many many more!!