When the setting of my life’s tale changed from Canberra to sunny Newcastle I had anticipated character development would follow. As the elaborate layers of this chapter began to unfurl I was pleasantly surprised to realise that the ever increasing opportunity, adventure and discovery were matched by tangible development in both my relationship with God, and my relationship with and between the different parts of myself. I had expected to step into the weight and delight of studying what I love and the churn and growth of living alone. I hadn’t anticipated being blessed in equal proportion to every challenge I faced.
This year has been hard. I have learnt what lonely feels like. Being an adult gets exhausting after not very long. I knew pretty early there were elements to being a physio that don’t come naturally to me. I went from the resource wonderland of my parent’s house to no friends and no things, and had to reassess my overzealous self-reliance. Then other larger things happened like my grandpa passing away in April, which showed some cracks in my shield. It’s with this sad list of things, however, that I’m stoked to share my experiences of tangible or unexplained blessing that really encouraged me to question and push the limits of my faith and relationships this year. I hold onto a deeper faith for having engaged and discerned my beliefs more honestly within these struggles. These moments really shaped the greatness of my year.
The first wonderful story comes through uni. I’m a particularly process oriented person and take a while to understand new spaces and tasks whilst I understand systems they work within. Seemly a set process is the opposite of how they teach and encourage physio practice. Everything is based on the individual and relative to the presenting case. We learn all of the theory around physical issues and then the art of discerning truth and need from what’s seen. I really needed a lot more real life practice than was a part of the course at this stage in order to get a grasp of the end goal.
God had a pretty sweet response to my freak out at the thought I had moved away for a degree I was going to be no good at. Not long after I completed a random sports trainer qualification I had heard was good to have as a student, a few spots as a sports trainer under a physio, with an elite sporting team were advertised to physio students. Being advertised to all years I didn’t expect a ring in. I mention that because I need you to know the magnitude of this blessing. I applied and got one of the positions and the experience working with real individual cases, at a level I already had the knowledge and skill to support, has been the exact real life work I needed to feel supported in my learning this year. When coincidences arise in life that inflict that scale of blessing, it’s a good time to consider the possibility there’s a God that loves us.
My grandpa passed away in April and it stirred the pot of my theology and caused me to think deeper about what I was holding onto in my faith. It was pretty clear I needed now some external support to help me whilst I discerned and processed life at a level I hadn’t done before. On the day I returned from my grandpa’s funeral I was invited by the ever faithful Grace Thong to her connect group without her knowing where I’d come from. Grace Thong is the embodiment of ‘blessed to be a blessing’. She physically ooses quality through what she says, how she thinks, the adventure and greatness she pursues, and the selfless love she carries. People around her are left encouraged and affirmed so deeply in themselves. She brings Jesus’ unconditional love, gift of wisdom and love of adventure to every space. She’s merely and extraordinarily being exactly who God made her to be. And she invited me into a community of people exactly the same right when I needed it.
They and a few other key friends very quickly became the community I needed. Between them they are wise, discerning, seek the truth, fight for what is right, care very deeply, are smart, pursue great things, enjoy fun and fellowship; are dependable and humble. I couldn’t have auditioned a better crew to pursue growth with whilst ensuring honour and grace were at the heart. An entire team orchestrated to come together at the exact moment many in the group needed it, shows so richly the ability and care of God. That even the friends in our lives matter to him and that his plan leads any willing heart to the exact thing they require. Those two things are His entire mantra, love and us.
Suddenly I saw the purpose of church in a totally new light. There’s no mention of rules and buildings in the true definition; church is the way we are all looked after. Alone I know I’m weak, but in a church there are bedrooms to spare and meals when I’m stuck, a mum when mine’s far away and friends to do life and struggle with. And I get to give my piece in the ways I’m built to be a blessing. A network based on all that Jesus is, love. I love the sustainable dependence of it; where we’re preserved first within ourselves by God and then act from overflow so the system is never heavy in one place, even when parts are hurting. And where anyone belongs because we are loved by the same God and that’s all that’s required to be a part of the family.
I also found comfort in my adventures alone. I’ve met my introverted side whilst living solitarily, which I enjoyed much more than I expected. I think there’s something valuable about enjoying you’re own company. It certainly gives you a chance to really get to know yourself. Or, perhaps, I enjoyed the exploration I got done in the process. I chose Newcastle over the same degree in Canberra because of the support fun and discovery have always brought me, and the immense diversity of that available in this new area by the sea. I love Novocastrians’ give-it-a-go attitude and well used rec areas. And “go where you’re motivated” is still my favourtie study tip.
I like to think I am a better version of who I was in February. One who’s starting to see the value of audacity and boldness as they are different to self-importance; that talent and passion are great qualities, but only when they come with humility and are filled with a purpose beyond me. I’m so stoked that I am beginning to see the truth and huge heart behind this God I decided to follow a few years ago, when I realised nothing else in this world holds such hope and peace.
I want to thank basically everyone I’ve met this year, and anyone who has shaped me to this point. Even at this moment I have many unknowns in my world like accommodation and jobs; and knowing how they’ll work out would make me feel a lot more sure next year will run smoothly. But I do know I have a God who loves to lead those who follow into exactly what they need; friends to make it wild; all the adventure in the world to look forward to; and a whole lot of learning to come out of the hard bits.
To a happy new year and all it will bring.
Lots of love and God bless,
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