Sobriety freed me. I had no idea how thick the chains were until they were gone, and it felt good. I finally was free to discover who little Miss Amy Reed really is, without the fear of my personality changing after one or two or six drinks.
I remembered how much I loved sober Amy, how fun and confident she was. In high school, I knew alcohol wasn't my thing, but I didn't judge others for it being theirs. After 6 years of that girl being gone, Jesus brought her back in full force. I truly can't express how grateful I am for that; I missed her.
I not only was free to discover myself, but I was also freed from a lot of distractions. It's hard to hear God when you're battling a vicious cycle of temptation - guilt - temptation - guilt. It gets exhausting, right? When God so graciously removed alcohol from my life, He removed a big wedge that was getting in the way of my ability to hear Him.
When I look back over 24, I see so much evidence of hearing God with new ears. One month into the year, I decided to sign up for a trip to Africa. The girl who had never been out of the country was getting on a plane to go share the gospel in Uganda - say what?
Oh, how I miss those faces. It was staring into them that I saw mission with new eyes. I didn't leave the mission field in Africa, I brought it home with me. Something happened over on that beautiful, green Uganda mountain top. This girl had her heart set on fire for Jesus in a whole new way.
Somewhere in those first few months of 24, I felt the Lord calling me to switch churches. Logically, it didn't make sense. I had no reason to leave my current church; still to this day, I can rave and rave and rave about how much I love it. But something in me felt it, this unexplainable peace that made the decision pretty easy for me.
In that transition, God did so much work in my heart. He humbled me, grew me, used me, molded me, challenged me, encouraged me, and loved on me. I've met so many people that I never would have met, and I can't praise Him enough for that.
24 was a year of learning to hear God, learning to search for His voice and follow it, trust it. It led to so many wonderful things this: new friends, new adventures, new stories. And I know this is only just the beginning.