29 was all at once the worst year of my life and the best year of my life.
A week after my birthday, my long-term boyfriend and I parted ways. We’d been together for a year and a half and just a few short weeks prior to my birthday, he had shared his plans to propose soon and we had talked seriously of a spring wedding in South Africa—flying my family across the world for a traditional Tswana wedding, having a reception in the US for friends and family sometime around Christmas, merging cultures and traditions to create something entirely our own.
And then it was over.
I cried for a week straight and for several weeks after would break down into uncontrollable sobs. There were times that I was sure that I was unable to stop crying and that the grief would be unending. It had been a long time since I had given my heart to anyone and never so completely.
I phoned the counselor who had helped me through the transition from rural Peace Corps life to modern Johannesburg. I leaned heavily on the few close friends I had made. And I waited anxiously for phone calls and emails from home.
Slowly I began to regain bits of myself. Little things that I didn’t know that I had lost. I realized that despite the many good things in our relationship, slowly overtime, I had lost site of myself. Little bits chipped away until I woke up one morning and didn’t know the me who I had become and couldn’t find the me who I was.
During this time, I read Bittersweet by Shauna Niequest. In it Niequest talks about “composting for the soul.” I love this idea and I’ve shared the quote here before. Some things in life have to die, to be mulched and turned, and to be subjected to nature’s processes, so that new things can grow—stronger, healthier things.
Through this dying off, through the natural processes of grief, I can come out of 29 and head into 30 knowing that it was a good year. A year in which I have finally grown comfortable with the me that I am and the me that God has created me to be. Although it was the most painful experience of my life, I needed the composting. I needed that pain and those tears. I needed to explore deep inside myself and find the strength and the hope that I didn’t know was there.
Composting seasons are not fun, but they are necessary. If you are in a composting season right now, all I can say to you is to lean not on your own understanding (Prov 3:5), but let the peace of God which transcends all understanding, guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7). Join in the composting process and know that out of it, something better will grow.