• Nicole Reinders

A Farwell to Year 19

Each year I fill up a notebook. The pages become to-do lists, schedules, reminders, strung together words I thought were interesting or beautiful, drawings, and more. On the very last set of pages I write a letter to myself. I become increasingly nostalgic and then turn to inspirational. These are the words I read throughout the upcoming year when I am feeling down, not good enough, or just want to hear advice from a friend.

Below is the letter I wrote to myself the day before my 20th birthday while sitting at a coffee shop. Pen to paper, phrases and sentences into coherent ramblings. With my 21st approaching at quite an alarming rate, I thought I would share what I wrote to myself almost a year ago.

Dear Nicole

As I sit here, I cannot help but think of one phrase that has touched my heart this year.

“but, my, look at how far you have come.”

It’s true-so many things have happened. From the excruciating process of cutting out toxic people from my life, a learning, productive period. From feeling so sad, numb, and increasingly distant. From hating myself, my circumstances, and everything I put out into the world.

To the glory. To becoming my best friend. Looking at myself, dead straight into the mirror and learning to love everything I saw. Spending quiet, alone moments to thanking God for who He created me to be.

And to the best part, on the very last day of 2017, accepting Christ for everything He is and giving up my control. Seeing the most BEAUTIFUL results this has given me and ways I have been challenged through it.

“Take every opportunity to walk with Christ,”

has become my mantra and has allowed me to fall in love with all the little intricacies that make up Sundays. The way the sun shines as I walk into church or the smiles peeking through on everyone’s face.

Giving up my control on that fateful day last December has made me fall back in love with life again. With the simple pleasures that take place day to day. An old man’s kiss to his wife. A mother helping her child ride a bike. The hellos and smiles exchanged between acquaintances.

I have grown in friendships- cultivating such deep connections between people that I could not imagine life without them. Those who take turns holding my heart in their hands. They are my support team, my best friends, and the very ones who will go to any length to keep me safe.

The saying,

“everyone is either a lesson or a blessing,”

is so unbelievably true. Every single person I encounter is impactful in my walk. They can stay a lifetime or only grace me for a season.

This year I have fallen in love with nature-as I do every year-but more so in the beauty of small things, even on the cloudiest of days. God created this beautiful earth and I should celebrate more through traveling and exploring, immersing myself in a culture completely different than my own.

I have started learning how to love deeply. How to pour some of myself in others so their scars become faint pink remembrances. To see the other in the best of light, in the highest of graces, and love them where they are at. I have learned that most do not want to hear incessant words of advice but only yearn for a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and some unwavering enthusiasm for all that is good in life. I am still striving to be more of light. To walk into a room and lift others up.

I am adjusting to change. To the utterly terrible feeling that sinks in when I watch a million people, things, and ideas sift into a fast-moving freight train. And no matter how quickly I run or how far I stretch my arm out, I still cannot catch up, keep going, and reach for a handle to get back with everyone else.

I’m learning to give people more chances, to not judge them by a few interactions. To love them without fail.

I am learning what it means to be part of a community. What it means to walk alongside people and do life with them.

I’m starting to understand how to heal, to be humbler, and that it is okay to feel and to hurt. It is okay to tell people when life has gotten rough, when you’ve had a bad day. It is okay to cry, and not just in the shower. You do not always have to be the strong one. The one with everything put together.

You are human. Your legs are not meant to carry the worries of the world. It’s okay to fall, to break down.

Sometimes in our most vulnerable state, we show the most strength.

And darling, when you heal, it doesn’t happen all at once, it is a process. Sometimes one step forward is two steps back. But remember to always get up, its okay to lighten your load, and try to move once more. The process of feeling stuck or going backwards is a hard one. But it allows for growth. No one can capture the entire beauty of something in one quick glance. It takes many long looks.

Never lose your ambition or sight of your goals. If you still want to work in refugee camps- DO IT. Never back down from walking with the Lord of turning away from your calling.

Be self-reflective. Know your faults and build upon them. Work hard to turn off your defense mechanisms. Grow continuously. Work to become the best version of yourself. Love yourself and God’s temple enough to strive to become more. Don’t overextend yourself but always lend a helping hand. Make the world a better place. Cure for the environment. Create peace in your life.

Stop running. For once. Away from anxiety, from your past, falling in love, deep connections, and talking about your struggles. It is okay to feel. To be ecstatic and then so very sad. Express what is happening around you so that you can remember 70 years from now how happy, overwhelmed, terrified, sad, or heartbroken you were.

As they say in This Is Us, “take the sourest lemon life has to offer you and turn it into something resembling lemonade.” So, take all the bad, the ugly, the unspeakable and pour gold in your cracks, face the world and smile.

Do not be afraid to fall in love. The way your feet make a crunchy noise as you step through the pines, the shock you get from jumping off the pier into the deep cold water. Fall in love with how the sun sets, so beautifully over the hills, casting long grasses into flames. Fall in love with the people you surround yourself with, how they all worship together in your living room, each with their own personalities interwoven to make a cohesive experience. How if any of us feel disgruntled we drive past all the city life, through the row of mansions along Lake Drive, and onward towards wilderness. Where we proceed to trek through darkness until we reach a beach and let the roaring waves sooth our broken hearts. Fall in love with those moments with those deep conversations, with their friendship, and their support.

Fall in love with the hard times, with the moments of true survival. When all you could think about was being somewhere-anywhere else. Without those you would not be the person you are today. You have so much heart and strength. Never let thoughts of your past ruin your hopes for the future.

As always, trust in the Lord. As unbelievable this seems at times, he is always there.

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

Strive to read the bible every day. To take every opportunity to walk with Christ. To uplift others and glorify His name. Continuously seek to be in His presence. To have a relationship with Him that oversteps all boundaries and whose depth is unmatched. Live with reckless abandonment for His name, His glory, and His kingdom.

Look around and be thankful for all the things going on. Notice the constant life in all little crevasses. It is okay to not feel as though you are always a part of everything and to dance on your own sometimes.

Be vulnerable. Be real.

Do not let anxiety rule your life. Do not let the voices that float above your head make decisions for you. Do not let darkness invade your space. Keep the light. Be the light. Look for ways to love. To bring about love. To bring love in to.

Read poetry and books. Drink tea. Make banana pancakes. Make your bed. Go hiking. Go on late night adventures with friends. Keep doing and keep going and keep loving. No matter how hard it gets, know it will get better. No tunnel is too long to block out the light forever. Love hard. Love long. Love deeply.

Lastly, it is okay to lose. You are going to survive a closing door. Some people are only meant to stick around for a season. But make sure you love them just as much. It is okay to fail. To feel as though the world is against you. That you cannot take even one breath before getting knocked back down. So dear, brush your frustration away. Pick up your heart. Let go of everything that is heavy and look for the sun. For the way people’s eyes light up, the way fresh snow feels on the ground, or skates feel on smooth ice.

Embrace life in every crevice of your being.

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