I submitted the following to A Beautiful Mess ... and they made it live on their blog space today. I'm blessed to have such a cool opportunity to share what's on my heart with a community that's all about authenticity and finding the beauty of God in who we are and what we do ... even in our chaos.

Traveling Toward Hope

“Life is a runaway train you can’t wait to jump on …” — Sugarland

Graduating college, starting a new job, waiting for the doors to open so you can walk down that aisle, deciding to become parents…we’ve all been there—baggage in hand, standing on a metaphorical platform, excited and optimistic to board the vehicle bound for what’s next in life. Whether it’s because we’re sick of what was or we’ve got plans for what could be, there comes a point on our journey when we choose change.

But how often does “what’s next” turn out exactly as we envisioned it might? Rarely.

Take this past year, for instance. It’s been good, but honestly, sometimes it has sucked. For me, very little has turned out like I thought it might. At moments it’s all confused the hell out of me. Maybe even some of the heaven. There have been periods of epiphany and constant seasons of growth. I’ve started a freelance business. Become a therapist. Watched my relationships transform in the aftermath of many a move, marriage, death, birth and calendar entry. I’ve climbed into the skies to land in new places. Planted a garden. I’ve certainly grabbed hold of a lot of new and blessed, but I’ve let go of a lot, too … often in the same moment and circumstance.

Each of us travels through life with expectations—conscious and not—and not a one of us finds our every hope and dream met. Face it: unmet expectations fill our days.

What a depressing thought, right?

I read once that depression is always about loss. If that’s true, then we can expect that melancholy and despair often follow disappointment. However, I think that’s okay. Truth be told, we adults can’t take hold of something new without first letting something go. We don’t grow without discomfort. Beauty emerges out of a grieving process. Hope is often fashioned in the ruins. Seen through tears. It’s a pinhole of light noticed only because we stand in the dark, consumed with a confusing and palatable grief.

I’ve grieved a lot this year — mourned friendships, career ambitions, social constructs, family loyalties and the pieces of myself that were tied to each and all. While grieving, in search of new hope and eager for “what’s next,” I have discovered more than I’d bargained for in myself and others. I have dissected my way of thinking and stumbled upon answers to questions I never knew to ask. In the process, I have discovered and destroyed my limits. I have learned to love sitting still. But, I have also regularly set out to spin, smiling, silly, taking life in and winding up dizzy. And as I have twirled, I have caught glimpses of God working things out His way. Sometimes that has slowed me down, though, more often than not, it has spurned me onward. I have found hope — beauty — in the uncertain, amongst my fears and because of disappointment.

For most of us, the much anticipated holiday season usually becomes a couple of months of high stress and self-reflection. As a result, we embrace the coming of a new year, making resolutions and letting ourselves dream again. We set out in hopes of controlling at least parts of the journey we’re about to embark upon. I think that’s admirable, important, wise, even. But the self-discipline and perspective needed to succeed at our resolve is a gift from God. Whether we like it or not, He’s all over the details of our lives. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

So, my point? Expect to succeed at the good things you’re tackling, but also, expect the unexpectedBe okay with unmet expectationsTrust the Truth to be revealed in the turmoil. Learn how to love it when your train seems to derail … begin by taking a second to enjoy the scenery you may have otherwise completely bypassed.