Who are you becoming?

I look at my life now, 6 years later, thousands of experiences and trials in: It’s as though I am a completely different person. It’s as if I don’t even recognize that terrified, bitter, hurting girl in those photographs anymore.
And yet, there are elements that the Lord has shown me are part of my DNA.
As incredible as the healing and transformation has been, it’s only in the last few months that I have reflected on what makes me Anna.

How do you sum up what’s happened in 6 years?
Especially in your 20s?
Don’t they say that these are the most formative years of your life?
I believe it. I’ve lived it.
It feels as though I’ve been at least 6 different people in that span, and culled through the grime and the dirt of living only to reveal more dirt and grime to be expunged.

Truth be told, I have no clue how to begin telling you the myriad of stories I have to share. I guess you could hop over to my blog and see some of what has transpired, but does that even do it justice?

I’ve traveled to 5 different countries, lived in at least 10 different rooms/buildings, broken hearts and nursed wounds on my own, become a fur momma to the best pup ever to quell the throbbing and add some (more) excitement to my life, discovered who I am not, exploring who I am, worked 7 different jobs (only 5 at once, tops), changed majors, graduated college, sang on an album thats up for Grammy nomination, chopped and grown my hair, hiked mountains and floated in pure salt below sea level, made hundreds of new friends, lost many friendships that I cherished more than they, seen miracles at the edge of prayers, dreamed big and halted my own dreams from growing, performed on a Disney stage after landing the best and most challenging job I’ve known, grown in confidence, been struck down by pride, made thousands of mistakes, and have completely been transformed by the love of God and those He has placed around me.

And that’s not even half of it.

I think what strikes me about looking back on who I was 6 years ago is how little I knew about how broken I really was. Shortly after I entered college, it all broke down. I broke up with my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years, experienced some serious PTSD from things in my past I had tried to bury, entered trauma therapy, discovered a church full of people who honestly sought truth, found out who Jesus really was (much more than just fire insurance or a cause/belief to fight for), and with that knowledge recognized how much I was hiding, holding too tightly, and crying out for. You can’t heal if you don’t know what’s wrong with you.

And although there are still hundreds of issues needing attention in my heart, I can’t help but rejoice in how much healing has happened.

I look at my life now, 6 years later, thousands of experiences and trials in: It’s as though I am a completely different person. It’s as if I don’t even recognize that terrified, bitter, hurting girl in those photographs anymore.
And yet, there are elements that the Lord has shown me are part of my DNA.
As incredible as the healing and transformation has been, it’s only in the last few months that I have reflected on what makes me Anna.

1. I am a woman of very strong opinions.
I would hope the last 6 years have softened me and turned me into a better listener, but I am forever grateful that I am a person of conviction and am not afraid to stay true to what I believe. The strength of my conviction has led me to a deeper understanding of how other people think and act; After all, we act out of the core of our beliefs.

2. I am a creative.
Everyone is putting on their best “duh” face here. In a world where creatives are not viewed as relevant to society and the job market isn’t sure what to do with you in some parts of this nation, that piece of my identity started to feel more secondary. That is, until I was reminded what I was created for. I can’t live without pursuing the arts and music – I would be doing myself and everyone else around me a disservice by pursuing anything else.

3. I have a very strong streak of empathy
I can’t even watch the tamest of Disney movies without getting emotionally involved with the characters. (Lookin’ at you, Baymax) I’ve learned that empathy is a strength, and a muscle to be worked on in order to expand your range of emotion and depth of relationship. The weakness here is when your emotions control you, rather than embracing them as a part of who you are and learning to partner with them in making decision, not allowing them to overcome you. Empathy allows you to step in to another person’s world and learn from them, as well as see a better way to love them and help them.

4. I love big and I love loud.
And I am learning to love quietly and embrace the small moments too. This can be a double edged sword, especially for an empathic artist who works at Disneyland. Self care has been a HUGE lesson that I am still learning, even now. Loving myself was the biggest challenge I faced – realizing that God loved me and wanted to be with me was even harder. But it wasn’t long before I realized that loving from an empty cup only made me bitter, exhausted, and scared to love anyone. You can only truly love from a place of love. Love yields love, whereas hatred yields hate. You can be the most giving person to others, but if you hate yourself, your actions toward others will never have pure motives and your love capacity will shrink with your soul as you continually deplete yourself.

5. I am highly adaptable.
Montana girl plopped in the middle of Southern California with uncertainty and culture shock around every corner. Trips to South Korea, Israel, Nicaragua, and Europe with varying degrees of intensity. Unstable living situations, car troubles, balancing more jobs and commitments than any sane human being should, having to learn the power of “no” to stop from slipping into that insanity. Learning to thrive instead of function. Coping with the busy until stillness becomes a habit of the soul, not just the body. Putting on 11 different hats every day to fulfill the expectations of every space I inhabit. My will is strong, but has learned to bend. Flexibility has become one of my favorite modes of living. I have learned there is freedom in not knowing, a delight that comes with embracing a blind but confident faith in a God who loves you and knows you inside and out. There’s a peace in smallness, doing the same things faithfully while trusting that more is on the way. Trust precedes a leap of faith, and if you allow yourself to bend and mold, while keeping your identity like putty, you’ll find life has a way of surprising you in the best possible sense.

6. Life is an adventure, and I’m looking forward to what’s next.
I am applying to grad schools, expanding my photography, diving into personal music projects, sinking my teeth into my department at Disney to learn and grow all that I can, and discovering more of what needs to be healed in me to truly live out the “abundant life” that Jesus promised in John 10. It’s onward to a time of refining, growing, and loving like I have never loved before.

This is a glimpse. I know there will be more to say, and I guess at some points I ought to be more specific. I guess I just felt the focus for myself needed to shift to truly figure out how to even begin.

I guess the real question isn’t “what happened since then?” it’s “who have you become?”
How do you sum up what’s happened 6 years?
You don’t.

Yours truly,
– Anna

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