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I heard this a lot today. Happy Birthday. From genuine, caring, loving friends. It was hard to hear so many times. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for my friends and don’t doubt for an instant their sincerity. I just can’t help but wonder where I am at now that I’m a year older and where I am going.

This year has been incredible on so many levels. I have been in fourteen different countries, given the opportunity to travel and learn with a group of unbelievable classmates and profs. I can identify areas in my life where I am learning and growing and changing and becoming more whole and have had significant people in my life verify this.

But this year has also been incredibly difficult. I have been forced to confront my own insecurities and the things which have stood in the way of my relationships with others, things like jealousy or fear of rejection. I have had to relearn things that we were all supposed to learn as children, like how to apologize and to own up for my actions. I have faced death in a new way with the loss of two family members this summer and various friend and family who have struggled with various illnesses and accidents. The issues that have been raised in my studies of South-East Asia, Social Justice, European History, issues like the current situation in Burma, or Darfur, or the holocaust or the treatment of First Nations people – they have left me feeling overwhelmed by the state of the world and our human potential for evil.

I have spent a full year now challenging my beliefs in God and asking for proof, for knowledge, for certainty – only to find that it cannot be found. And now, at the beginning of my last year at SSU I struggle to come up with options for my future, with hope that I can have a positive impact on the world, and with faith to believe that despite sickness or death or injustice, God somehow still has a plan in this shitty world.

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