2013 has been a tough year.
Though I’ll own that entirely, I’ll explain it here in small parts. If you want to grab coffee, I’ll share details of the bigger picture that I’ve begun to realize. It’s almost comical- to think that I claim to understand “the bigger picture” after only having a month to process life on the other side of the many curve balls. But to realize I’ve gained, learned and grown from my experiences? I’ll take that. And, I’d like to document where the first month has brought me. Because I’m sure there will be copious amounts of realizations coming, and I’d like to cherish the baby steps.
Allow me to back track altogether.
I grew up awkwardly shy. Yes, I had my core group of girl friends and places that I felt comfortable and safe- I didn’t struggle with shyness there. However, put me in the slightest situation of unknown and I would quickly clam up. As soon as I would feel uncomfortable, I’d skirt conversations, avoid eye contact, etc.
I remember hearing my mom talk about how shy she and dad were growing up- and it was hard for me to believe. For as long as I have known her, she’s been teaching women bravely, courageously. My dad, though more quiet in nature, has always had quick witted remarks and wise words. I regularly saw warm smiles, firm hand shakes and big hugs to friends and strangers alike. And yet, they would tell me tales of a different time. Like when they were so shy they didn’t even invite their extended families to their wedding.
“I was a wallflower,” Mom would say. And I would look at her incredulously- because I saw her courage, and her poise.
I’ve continued to struggle with confidence my entire life. If you would have told me that I would move across the country, away from family, and start my own business- I would have probably nervously laughed and asked you to take it back. I wouldn’t have wanted to think about what that independent life would look like. I had always dreamt about meeting Mr. Right in college, getting married, working “a year or so” and then having a family. Because it would mean companionship and comfort (and yes, I realize that those of you who are on that path are laughing at that equation being a breeze).
But, I did. I moved to Florida right after college, promising to move back home after gaining “two years of experience” (spoiler alert- it’s been longer than two years). The longer I lived here, the longer I wanted to stay. I worked in the corporate world, realized it wasn’t for me, and started Ashton Events. I’ve depended heavily on others with each turn in the road- navigating through hurdles very carefully and cautiously. Not to say I didn’t get hurt, but it was routinely someone else’s final shove that got me to take any leap. I was stretched, but it was often still within my limits. And in small doses.
So then this year happens. Life looked a lot different. It was heartache, and lots of sickness, lots of questions, and moving, then surgery, and traveling for appointments, then- Ashton Events full time. Which I probably should have shouted from the roof tops (because I’m doing my dream job!), but I was so terrified it would fail that I just wanted to test the waters first. Regardless, many of the items I’ve clung to my entire life (my relationship status, my health, my family, my financial security) were repeatedly plucked from my hands. I saw huge, heart scarring gaps left by the idols I found my identity in. Each one was taken away- and the Lord just continued to shape me. Push me. Mold me. To take what I see as “worth” and completely shatter it.
However, when I look back at the past year, I realized I gained something along the way. I saw me for me, stripped of my idols and holding nothing that “I have done.” I saw the frivolity in selfish ambition and the emptiness it yields. I saw the joys of the weird, quirky passions He has given me- and the privilege I have to use them for His glory. And I know that that is enough. I learned to love being Laura Helm, and not be so shy about who He made me to be. I feel more confident in owning my weaknesses, improving on them, and offering my strengths. I am excited to offer others my absolute best and pour into the lives of those around me.
I know that life is a journey. I’ve talked about this frequently with others this year. It has peaks and valleys. 2012 was practically a year long peak. 2013- more the opposite. But I’ve learned that it’s not about surviving the valleys or anticipating the peaks. We’re not guaranteed any peaks! It’s about moving through life with the courage that He is everything you need. That’s the awesome thing- He is infinite. He can fill any void, to a point that it not only saturates you, but spills onto those around you. A hole that you thought endless, suddenly transforms into a fountain of His love pouring onto others.
I remember hearing my mom give her testimony- about how the Lord changed her. He gave her Moses-like faith to conquer things she would never have dreamt of doing. I’d like to think that I am taking steps to learning the same.