I have written here and elsewhere that 2014 was the worst year of my life, and these are the kinds of statements that become mantras. The worst. The hardest. Never Want To Go Back There. Over time I don’t even know why I’m saying what I’m saying. Have you ever been there? In that place where you’ve had a label for something for so long, you know the label, you trust the label, but the thing itself, you can’t even remember what’s there anymore.
Sleeplessness had something to do with it, adjusting to a new culture with no support system, darkness and cold, I think those were the standard replies I trotted out in response to any follow up questions when I declared 2014 The Worst Year of My Life.
When I sat down at the end of last year to pray and dream about 2015, lists upon lists of thankfulness is what came out of me. You are not more surprised than I am.
Because here is what I remembered.
Husband. Who accepted me when I failed, who woke up with our children when I was too tired, who cooked and cleaned and folded laundry. Who laughed with me. Who took care of the boys while I spent many, many days away, recovering and healing.
Big Boy and Little Bear. Stunning creations, unique, overflowing with creativity, thoughtfulness and mischief. Every single day with them I have smiled at something they have done. They changed in 2014, both were in diapers at the start of the year, one is now in underwear all the time. One was only drinking breast milk, now he eats more than his big brother. They play and wrestle and fight and jump on each other. I cannot believe they belong to me. I cannot believe I have sat on the sidelines (or the floor) and watched them grow.
Beauty. I live in a stunning city, beautiful buildings everywhere I turn, lakes, the sea, forests and fields. We live in a home that is full of beauty even when it is messy, we can walk to the water’s edge in less than a minute.
Friendship. A place of so much absence and bareness, a place where all I have known are the words goodbye and loss, 2014 brought the new. Friends with whom I can share my heart and my life, openly and honestly, with no judgment. Friends who share my creative passions. Friends who bring joy into the every day of our life. Friends who have lived life with me.
This isn’t even the half of it, only the major ones. I wrote three pages of thankfulness because there was so much, it overflowed out of me.
I can imagine someone is wondering, But what about those essays you wrote about raging against God? What about the hard? The very, very hard things that happened last year? What about that? Oh, it was there my friend. Every week, every month, the ill wind howling in the face of every hope, you read about some of it here but most of the pain tucked itself away in my heart. The hard, it was here, it was real.
But what I saw last week was the incredible good, the indescribable beauty, glory rising out of the ruins.
Our labels can keep us from seeing the truth. If the story of our life is written by nail-pierced hands, grace is the warm water that washes the pain, that wraps the bruise, that pours out peace.
Everything can be redeemed.
Now it’s your turn: How do you look back on this past year? What were the toughest things that happened (if you want to share)? Have you seen beauty come out of those places? In what ways?