Challenge, Confusion, Comfort, and Culmination. 2013 A Year in Review


I started writing the annual "reflect on the past year/look forward to the new year" post for the last week. Each and every time I felt as though I was forcing it, or it didn't have my full attention. Tonight something is different, tonight I need to write this. I think that's because as of 3:30 pm today, the last two years of my professional life came to a close. In December of 2011 I began working for Cummins Emission Solutions. I worked with the Pricing Team for the last two years, and in the two years I have learned an incredible amount about business and myself. Now, you may be wondering why this is how I decided to begin writing this post, but you see it's because this new year, this new job, is the culmination of 365 days of God radically stretching me in ways I never dreamed possible.

This last year, I faced a lot of challenges and had a few triumphs. I began a small group of men that have become my Wednesday morning family. These are men that trusted me to lead them, and in turn have invested time, prayers, and energy into my life, my sin, my struggle, and my triumph. I traveled to Eastern Europe and made memories that will never leave me. I took a random trip to Florida with 3 great friends, I went to Gatlinburg with 6 of my best buds to celebrate a brother's marriage. I stood beside two of my dear friends as each of them married the women of their dreams. I moved into a new office building, which at first seemed like more of a headache than a blessing. Little did I know, that with that new office would come new friendships, friendships that have made me a better man, and saved me from myself on more than one occasion. I've gotten to celebrate new babies with many of my friends, and I've gotten to celebrate birthdays of cherished nieces, nephews, and my Goddaughter. I bought a new car (again), and I am thankful that it allows me to get from point A to point B so efficiently. And of course, I accepted a new position that was an answer to months and months of prayers. I am blessed by everything (and trust me, the above is not everything that happened) that God has provided, however, the year hasn't been all laughs and smiles.

I've stood next to friends as they've buried loved ones. I mourned the loss of my father's two best friends with him, and it strengthened our relationship. I lost touch with good friends. I faced stresses and trials at work beyond my own comprehension. I turned down a job that I thought was perfect for me. I've battled heartache, disappointment, and loss. I found myself going through the motions at times. I faced some of the demons from my past, and I revealed some of the skeletons in my closet. I learned that transparency, as difficult as it is, is the only thing that can heal the pain I still feel from all the things that have happened in the past. And, most importantly, I had to face the man I had become because of all these things. I'll be really honest, 2013 was a difficult year for me to look in the mirror. The stresses of my job, the disappointments in my professional and personal life, started to turn me into a man I didn't like. Thanks to my family, my friends/coworkers, and The Lord I was able to realize how much I didn't like the man I had become. You know, God has a funny way of revealing things to me too. Around the time I began to realize this about myself, I fell in love with a song that came on my computer at work one day. While I realize this song is probably written with the intent to be a love ballad from a man to a woman, I felt like God was using this song to serenade my soul. Go ahead and laugh if you think that's a silly concept, but it's true.

I Won't Give Up.

Jason Mraz released a song in 2012 that captured everything I needed to hear from God. That no matter what I was going through, no matter how much I had to learn, God would not give up on me. It became a comfort, each and every time I felt lonely, discouraged, defeated, downtrodden, or unsure of the future, I could play this song and it would lift my spirits. It would calm my nerves and remind me that God understands my journey, He understands my struggles, my fears, my trials, my failures and my uncertainty. He gives me space to be my own man, while still shaping me into the man He is calling me to be. He is also there to celebrate my triumphs (which are really HIS triumphs), share in my joy, love those I love, and smile when I smile. I have a much deeper appreciation of the personal relationship that Christ yearns to share with me, and that I will never fully deserve.

Culmination at it's finest.

The culmination of all of this, of the 365 days that according to our calendar composed the year 2013, was the new job that I begin on Monday. God uses every situation to teach me more about my faith, myself, and Him. There was a pivotal point in the 365 day journey of 2013. A moment where I decided to stop stressing about the money, the stress, the desire to change jobs, and the feelings of inadequacy. A moment where I finally handed everything to God and said "Father, I am not capable of doing this alone, whatever is Your Will be done, please". I spent the next few weeks giving of my time and finances in ways that previously, I had made excuses for why they weren't possible. From the worldly, financially responsible perspective I was probably making some silly decisions. From the Kingdom, Biblical, good steward of my resources, I was making the wisest investments of my life. That's when there was this second moment, where I hit my knees and cried out "Thank You Father! Thank you for teaching me about how to be a better man, a better disciple, and a son/friend/brother/coworker/employee/volunteer." That moment was a Tuesday morning, on Wednesday I revealed the moment of revelation, the changes to my giving, and the thankfulness with my Community with a Side of Bacon small group. We rejoiced together, we prayed for continued understanding and giving, and THEY encouraged me. On Thursday morning, I got a message at work asking me to call one of many, many people I had interviewed with. I called, and listened. He wanted to offer me a job, in fact, the offer would be in my Inbox within minutes. I could barely contain myself, I "played it cool and professional" by telling him I would review the offer and let him know. I hung up the phone, I sat down at my desk, and I cried. That's right, this job offer brought me to tears. Not because it was a lot of money, or my "dream job", at that point I didn't know what kind of money was being offered, and I still don't know what my "dream job" is. There were tears because God is good, God provides, and God loves. I not only got to learn valuable lessons, but now I was being blessed beyond words. It was as though, for the first time in many months, I felt... Appreciated. Worthy. Accomplished. I didn't feel those things because of the job itself, I felt those things because I had learned more than I could have asked for about myself. I became a better man in the search for this new job, and God provided the answer to a lot of prayers through this job offer.


I have one prayer for 2014, and one prayer alone. That prayer is to become better. Become a better man, a better friend, a better son, a better brother, a better roommate, a better coworker, a better Uncle, a better teacher, a better leader, a better volunteer, a better grandson, a better giver, a better mentor, and a better men-tee (is that really a word?). 2014 is going to hold it's fair share of challenges, trials, and triumphs. I will still face sin, fear, disappointment, discouragement, depression, anxiety, and failure. However, I will (hopefully) do it more gracefully, because thanks to 2013 I am stronger, because I was able to identify and relinquish control of more of my weakness and need for Christ to be my Savior. I have goals for this year, not resolutions:

1. Succeed in this job
2. Seek Christ more fervently
3. The general fitness and well-being goal (this is perpetual)
4. Devote more of myself to others
5. Focus more on living well

Grace and Peace