And like that another year is over.

2015 has been one the hardest years of my life in my living memory. It took me a while to realise it, and then to accept it. I’ve always found life fairly easy. My level head and controlling nature generally keeps everything in check. I don’t leave space for error.

But this year I woke up in pain most mornings. I relied on painkillers to get through the days so much so #DrMel decided it was unsafe and I began to push through the pain unless unbearable.

This year I started a fun relationship that wasn’t going to work, ended it and dealt with the guilt that followed.
This year I went from absolutely loving my job to not loving it.
This year I jumped on rollercoaster ride every time I went to a church related activity. From almost walking out mid-service and never returning to joining the church board and watching friend after friend leave.
This year I decided I needed to shake up my life and packed up all my belongings and moved 1000km north to a city I knew less people than the fingers on my right hand.

It’s safe to say my head has been in overdrive. I’ve never had so many areas of my life out of my control.

I’ve never been one to come home and camp out on the couch. I’ve never been one to force myself to social gatherings because I know another night on the couch will make things worse. I’ve never been one to lie when people ask how I am.

So often my loved ones have shared that they’re having a hard time. I tried to empathise with them. ‘Yes, it’s okay. We all go through them.’ But I didn’t understand what that meant beyond having thousands of words looming, a full social calendar and self-induced tiredness. I did not know hard. I possibly still don’t, but this year I’ve realised whatever ‘hard’ looks like for each of us, ‘hard’ keeps you awake at night. Hard keeps you in bed in the mornings. Hard keeps you grasping for anything to hold on to. Hard makes you reflect on what you know. Hard makes you learn.

I’ve worked out if things aren’t easy, you don’t have to fake it. You don’t have to pretend. You don’t have to always smile. You can be real with the people around you. You can lose face. You don’t have to have it all together.

365 days ago I wrote about my goals for 2015 without any knowledge only a few days later I’d push myself too hard and cause a year of ongoing pain. In reflection they’re pretty shallow goals about me doing something. Throughout the year I came back to these goals to make sure I was on track. I was and I am. I read a lot of books (and snuck a few audio books to bulk out the count), I finished my DofE, I fought for a mid-year promotion then for an interstate role. The last one was a challenge as there were days and weeks I was convinced I could solve my problems myself. And although I’ll have a new set of goals for 2016, it wasn’t achieving these goals that I find the value of 2015.

This year I’ve learnt to cling to the things that bring me joy, that refocus me and keep me at the foot of the cross. I picked up a paintbrush again. I didn’t even know if 9 years on I’d be even able to paint (to a standard I’d be happy with). I started sewing again (and wearing my creations). I started playing netball again (and accepted I had to relearn the skills I’d forgotten after I stopped playing competitively). I chose to start reading books again (and not just cushy novels). I chose to stick by the church I have struggled with (because church is more than me and my issues). I started being honest with myself. I started being honest with others. I started being honest with God.

Yes, it’s been rough. I still wake up in pain most mornings, and despite most of my friends and family living 1000km away I’ve re-found stability. I know that there are seasons in life and 2015 held a number of them. I learnt about God’s faithfulness. I continue to learn what patience looks like, what gentleness looks like and what selflessness looks like.

This year I learnt I can’t keep everything under control. It might have taken losing control to realise I needed to go crawling back to God because he’s the one in control. We can’t do things on our strength. I know that God is good. I have life because of Jesus. I have hope because of grace.

Here’s to 2015, a horrible but fruitful one in Christ.