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Bridget Connelly

Time is a funny thing. Our lives revolve around it— when we need to be places by, when we should be reaching milestones, what the timing of our future looks like…It can be a double-edged sword. Having structure and routine with time in life is important, but there can be negative sides to it. When we obsess over the timing of our life plans, and it doesn't go the way we expect- it can be confusing and difficult to digest. Worry and fear has a tendency to creep in when timing doesn’t pan out the way you thought it would. 

While reflecting at this time last summer, I felt had a lot of my life “figured out” in my head. I clung so tightly to my life plans and the timing of how I wanted it to unfold. The months to follow that time were heavily weighted with change, grief and suffering. I could never have imagined such loss and pain —the plans and timing I had, completely dissolved. When timing and plans fall apart, that sense of security can be absolutely terrifying.

My time spent in the last year has been the most challenging, yet beautiful, to date. A year can change so much. I think it’s human nature, especially in difficult seasons, to look back on the past and long for a different time of life. We analyze, we stress, we regret, we reminisce, we romanticize— but living in the past does not change the present. I find it valuable to look back and cherish the past memories that serve you, and the memories that do not — to learn from them and let them go. 

While I desire to have a plan for the future and to know what lies ahead, I have come to realize it’s crucial to stop trying to work things out before their times have come. It’s necessary to accept the limitations of living one day at a time. There is a time for everything and everything in it’s time. Only God knows why there are dark days, frustrating and painful times, but also beautiful life-giving times. It’s not our responsibility to try and make sense of that and know what lies ahead. Your timing is unique to you and it’s exactly as it should be. There is tremendous beauty in accepting where you are at exactly in life. With all the emotions life can throw at you, to know these up and downs had to happen, to make you into who you are supposed to become — profound peace can be found in that. I believe we experience happiness and joy more intensely, when we have known pain and grief. My friend Jed said it so perfectly:

“The end is as beautiful as the beginning, though I know that’s hard to believe. We want things to last forever, but we don't know what were asking for. If we got paradise forever, at least in the way we can conceive of it now, it would disappoint. Sure it would thrill us for awhile, but without variation or struggle our brains atrophy and the place would become a prison. When you are far from paradise this sounds ridiculous. But the human human spirit needs contrast to see and feel and know. Only one note sustained is noise. The notes have to change to make music.”

Although we don't always understand or want to understand why good things come to an end, why we have to face trials and tribulations, all of those experiences make life ultimately richer. They make your story. They make music. Never dismiss your story, your struggles — all of it makes your beautiful music. 

This quote nails it, “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” I don’t think we can be fully alive without challenge and from that, transformation. 

When I think back on heartbreak at various times in my life, I can see one — that I got through it and two — how it molded me. Struggle I endured, got me exactly where I needed to be and I became who I am because of it. I have known myself more profoundly because of these seasons.  Feeling ruined can be a gift —it is the road to transformation. After getting through broken periods of life, I’ve realized I was always OK after it. In most cases, better then ok. I’m still here, my heart has some holes from loss and suffering, but I’m alive and well. I have my family, I have eyes to see, a heart that beats, an imagination that seeks adventure and a God that loves me more then I can imagine.

I’ve weathered a series of storms that I’m still navigating out of, but I see the clearing. It’s because of the people I have been so deeply blessed with in my life — they have picked me up, been a constant and danced through the rain with me. It’s because of travel exploring more of the world on my own and with humans whose love, depth and grace has no bounds. It’s because of my faith I have a sense of calm and peace about what lies ahead knowing that God is going to take care of me. He always does. Combined — they have stretched me, shaped me, and carried me through dark seasons time and again. 

I know there is a lot of unknown ahead — careers, relationships, where I will end up. With that could come weighted uneasiness, but I am seeking to only find gratitude for these question marks ahead. To me, they come wrapped in a thick amount of wonder and possibility. The unknowns, paired with travel, have kept my senses activated and my soul on fire for life’s crazy, beautiful turns. Currently, my timing and plans look like simply taking each day as it comes. And for this period of life, I feel liberated and alive by it. Routine can become too comfortable and limiting. I don’t want to waste my days filled with a heaviness for not knowing what is to come, when I don't know what will happen tomorrow.  There is so much of the world to see, so many people to meet and so many reasons to be thankful.

I love this quote, “You may not see it today or tomorrow, but you will look back in a few years and be absolutely perplexed and awed by how every little thing added up and brought you somewhere wonderful— or where you always wanted to be. You will be grateful that things didn't work out the way you once wanted them too.” I may not see that today, or soon, but I know all the puzzle pieces will fit together in time.  And until then? I’m going to enjoy every minute of this new journey I am on. I have seen time again, how short life can be. I’m hopeful that my energy will not be spent sitting in the past, overthinking the question marks ahead or trying to roadmap out my timing and life plans. My heart, holes and all, is rebuilding itself stronger then I knew was possible. It's finding deep joy in seeing the world, deepening bonds with new and old friendships, and discovering more of who I am and where I see life leading me. Right now, that looks like sitting at a crater lake in the middle of Uganda, soaking in every ounce of my magical surroundings — about to dive fully into the beautiful, mysterious unknowns (quite literally). I am ready.