Life and Love

The grateful 18

2018: My mountain and valley year.

The mountains touched the sky. The valleys sunk far beneath the ocean.

A year of ups and downs, ups and downs, never knowing when the mountain would crumble, when the valley would disappear.

I had to hold onto things that kept me level. Have faith that this is how it was supposed to be. Love on people who entered my life at just the right moment. Sing when it was hardest. Find little snippets of joy, whether it be at the summit of the mountain or the bottom of the valley.

At the end of it all, I’m grateful. Grateful that I woke up every single day, that I was able to experience what true joy and true pain feel like. I am grateful that this year didn’t always go according to my wimpy plans, because in seeing mine fall short, I was, am, and will be able to see how great of a storyteller God is.

Grateful. The grateful 18.

I’m grateful for the soft hugs from my treasured teddy bear, Clif.

I’m grateful for the first breath I took after leaving the water I was baptized in. It was full of hope and joy; it was quiet, right before I registered the cheering from the crowd, and filled with wonder.

I’m grateful for the top floor of the Meyer Alumni Center, which summoned people I’ve been missing my whole life. Bryar the brave, Alyson the wise, Michaela the storyteller.

I’m grateful for the first moment everyone notices Bohemian Rhapsody is playing, leading to a five-minute and fifty-five second production no matter where you are.

I’m grateful for time apart reminding me how wonderful it is to be together.

I’m grateful for time together reminding me how wonderful it is to be alive. A hand squeezed, a tear wiped, a familiar hug, a shoulder to rest my head on.

I’m grateful for the Amtrak train that runs from St. Louis to Chicago, slow and steady, which led me to a weekend adventure with my best friend that I will treasure forever.

I’m grateful for the Reputation Tour, the three nights of the year that I danced so hard I was sore the next morning; I sang so loud my vocal chords will never be the same. The three nights I stood with people I love and watched confetti fill the night sky.

I’m grateful for Mom and for Dad, who never leave my side, never stop loving me with every ounce they can muster.

I’m grateful for the drive down Walnut Street in the fall, filled with bright bursts of orange and red leaves; fleeting, but perfect.

I’m grateful for the moments that turned my life upside down.

I’m grateful for the moments that felt mundane, steady, stabilizing; the moments that reminded me who I am.

I’m grateful for the testimonies I heard from other students, who inspired me and guided me through the overwhelming love of Jesus.

I am grateful for the night Emily and I decorated our apartment for Christmas; lights twinkled and laughs rang out as we sang carols and hung ornaments on the tree.

I’m grateful for a cold night at the Buzzard Bar, where friends reconnected, tiny hands were dealt, laughs were constant.

I’m grateful for podcasts about the Kennedy family, Bobby and Ted, distracting my brain when it needed distracting the most.

I’m grateful for a shiny silver harmonica, now sitting on my bookshelf, which takes me back to one of my favorite memories with my Papa.

I’m grateful for the ability to remember.

To remember the laughter, the tears, the stumbles and the victories.

To know what it feels like to love and be loved.

The grateful 18, with an endless list that follows.

Onto the next.


By laurenstockam

Lauren is a graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.

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