As this year closes out, I am drawn to reflect back on the past year. I’m not necessarily one to do this on New Year’s Eve. I don’t make resolutions, I don’t usually go to parties or care much if I see the ball drop, but this year is a bit different….from the reflecting part at least. I have had a somewhat rough 2010 (well the last few months of 2009 were pretty awful as well). I cried a lot. It’s rather hard to explain and for most people who know me, my life probably seemed rather normal. The losses I was experiencing were silent losses, internal losses or the kind you just shouldn’t share. This was something especially hard for someone as open about things as I am. It wasn’t one major loss, it was a series of big and small losses that came upon me in waves in such a way that just when you think you are going to catch your breath, you are hit again. A select few knew pieces of my agonizing year, but almost no one knew everything. But now that I am more removed from the situation, I wanted to look at what I was experiencing during this time.
I think for me, the biggest thing I gleaned from these 15 months, has been that: This is all God’s fault, and that’s okay. I think sometimes we want to give God credit for all the good things and blame people, circumstances, even Satan for all the bad things. That just can’t be. God is sovereign and in control. He knew each and every thing that would happen and he ordained it. While a statement like that might sound bitter. I say it with an overwhelming sense of peace that I certainly couldn’t have mustered 12 months ago. God loves me. He is far bigger than what I was experiencing. He has a plan and it includes me. I don’t presume to have a clue as to what God has in store for me, despite my overwhelming desire to catch a glimpse of that plan, but I am confident He does.
Lately I have put some words around what I felt in these last months. I have described it as God systematically breaking my heart. I have also described it as God cutting pieces of me apart, like a living organ donor and then giving those pieces of my very being to others so they could use them, but leaving me empty. And most recently I have felt blacklisted by God. In my most recent attempts to find God’s will for me, I have applied to volunteer in a number of places and have been turned down or just can’t fit into what is needed. I have begun to laugh, which is far better than a year ago when I was finding myself crying as much as I have been laughing lately. Does God want me to rest? Is He shutting doors because He has something else in mind? Does he want me to persist? Quite frankly, I have no idea. What I do know is that it’s okay. He has a plan and He loves me. And while I have felt misunderstood and really not on the same page as practically anyone, I have come to understand God better. If I must chose between being understood or knowing God more, I will take that later.
I must confess that lately I have been a little afraid: afraid that there is more loss, afraid that I just can’t take it any more. But tonight I am at peace. Maybe 2011 will bring more tears, but He loves me. Oh, How He Loves Me! I am reminded of the theme song from this year’s youth mission trip to Belize. Even in the agonies that will come in life, He loves me and I can trust him.
Some of you who might read this might be thinking that I’m a bit crazy. With the number of times that I broke down into tears this past year, I might have agreed with you at times, but what I’m referring to here is different. Many of you don’t believe in a God at all, or a God who would care about the details of my life and spend time being involved in that life. To that, let me say that He is so very real and personal. There were times this year that I think not believing would have been easier, almost refreshing. However, I could no more deny God than I could deny the existence of any of you. I know He is real in my head from the study of the Bible, but I know he is real in my heart by the things he has done inside me, even down to the breaking of my heart this year. I have seen His fingerprints on my very soul. I have not heard His voice, I have not touched his nail scarred hands, but I have felt God in the midst of the storm. I know we live in a world of “to each his own” and “all paths lead to heaven”, but that is not the God of the Bible. The past few months I have been reading Luke and the question is posed directly and indirectly several time about Jesus. Who is this man? I have know the answer to that question for many years now, but I understand it even more now. Who is this man? He is God incarnate, the Messiah, my savior and my Lord. I know that the pain of this year was ordained by God. It was all his fault, and it’s okay. It’s more than okay, dare I say, it was a gift.
Perhaps next year’s gift will come wrapped in laughter, joy, pretty things. I really hope it does. Perhaps that gift will come wrapped in hurt and loss and tears. No matter what, I know that each day is a gift. And I know that He loves me.Oh, How He Love Me! That is enough.
Before I end this reflection. I would like to offer my thanks to a few extra special people. To my husband Jay, who watched me unravel slowly over the last 15-16 months and is most certainly hoping for a much more uneventful year; who had to ask me not to read emails before bed so I could go to sleep without crying; who listened to me rant and cry and say whatever came into my head without filtering it first and then didn’t repeat it, especially because even I didn’t believe everything I said once I thought it through. To my friend Linda, who’s year long mission trip to New Orleans turned out to not only inspire our family’s crazy road trip, but unexpectedly provided me with a loving supportive friend that I could reach at almost any time of the day or night, which normally would have been impossible for a person with a full time teaching job. To Melissa and Pier who were the best of friends and listened to me lose my mind and loved me through some very irrational moments. As I reflect on this past year (or so) and what I have learned, each of you played a crucial role in my life by reflecting Christ to me. I am ever grateful. I know many more of you deserve Kudos, I am blessed with many wonderful friends who listened, and loved me this year, and who I know would have been there had been able to share with you. You know who you are, I know who you are, and more importantly God does, and I’m sure you all earned some jewels in your crowns for loving me through this year.
May each of you have a wonderful 2011! May you come to know who Jesus Christ is in a deep and personal way, hopefully with less tears and more laughs. May you find peace with God and forgiveness of your sins in a way that no religion offers, but only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. May you count your blessings, even those that come wrapped in unpleasant circumstances.