2018 was the year of intense change. Everything in my world changed, completely out of the unexpected and I learned the true meaning of “what does not kill you makes you stronger”. There have been times when I have heard those words uttered or read them, actually I have even had people say them to me and found them to be perhaps a bit dramatic. Having walked through this year I know its not just about true death – it can be death of spirit, death of faith, death of relationships – and what does not pull the life from those aspects of a person will in fact make them stronger.
This year in our world we have walked through incredible possibility with opportunities for a move, new careers, and new passions; we have been privileged to share our story and learn many others; we have experienced new places and had an incredible amount of fun. This year we have walked through a failed chance at parenthood; having to humble ourselves to let go of worldly plans (move, careers, financial freedom) and recommit to a life of illness; and experienced incredible change in how we relate to many in our tribe. These things have brought brokenness, pain, and sorrow that I would not have been sure we were strong enough to withstand…. and yet we did. There has been incredible change in my family – marriages, births, a house fire, loss – and truly there is no way to say it besides satan launched a full blown attack on a family who is each other’s strength, rocks and we had to fight through time, patience, faith, prayer and love to survive it – but we did and we all hope are better for it. And then we have concluded this year with a gray fog over our plans, Danny’s health, and our hearts as we have watched significant loss hit the CF community. But the lessons of my life – our life – continue to lead back to one: out of pain, out of struggle, out of the mess there can be strength, survival, and such beauty.
When I scroll through the blog I am reminded of that lesson so many times – so much of it in 2016, in huge places in 2017 – but so many of those were “expected” pain. We knew illness would only get harder, we knew transplant life would challenge everything – and even though I never thought it would be as hard as I had anticipated – we knew it could hurt. But we did turn into such stronger and better people for it, we let out our breath when moving past those things, happy to have completed them. 2018 brought this lesson at a new level as all of it came from situations that were completely unexpected. And yet my life is richer because of every single one of them – even the ones that are still healing. Though we will enter 2019 still in the middle of so much change – I have such a different outlook. There is no way to know what any of our life will look like, but I am so encouraged to see the beauty in the pain and the miracle in the mess.
There are so many different stories I could rely to explain what we have seen and what we have learned. But the truth is – our hearts aren’t quite ready for that or the stories are not just mine to tell. Even some of the medical side of our world we are keeping to ourselves because our hearts are not there on sharing. In fact that has been one of the greatest gifts of this year. You must learn when you have reached the need for quiet, for space, for prayer, and turning inward. It has been completely counter to how I identify myself: outgoing, honest, open, and in need of people to heal my heart. But this year I have needed my God and my husband and not much more. Yes, I have been blessed with wise friends, warm hugs, beautiful family and immense amounts of kindness – but if I am being honest the only healing I was able to do was through Him and with Danny. It was a pain and mental struggle that I had no idea I was able to withstand…. and yet I did. And now I know those precious moments of literally crying out to God, of needing my husband to crawl into bed (one time in full post gym clothes – which if you know me who has RELIGIOUS OCD rules about my bed being clean is unheard of) and just let me cry into his shoulder – will be some of the most cherished of my life. I was given the gift of faith and a marriage that saw me through the dark until I could make it to the light where I could see God’s plans at work in the middle of the mess.
So often we fight against God’s plans for us, but 2018 brought us so many things we could not even rail against, we just had to walk through – I have been given the blessing of learning (yet again) the plans He has for us is so much greater than the ones we have for ourselves. Don’t be so afraid of what hurts, of what seems counter to your plans…… since you just have no way of knowing where they can lead. When I picture the year there is one constant – I continue to see Danny and I walking outside of appointments: medical, legal, financial, adoption, for fun, for work, for dreams. Sometimes we would walk out encouraged, sometimes we would walk out in tears, sometimes we would walk out mad…. I see us exciting all these different doorways into the summer sun, covered in heavy coats and boots into the chilly winter air, sometimes with Danny literally leading me as my eyes were too swollen and sad to find my own way, and some times with us laughing in such disbelief we have to stop and take a few breaths to see if this good fortune was truly our reality…. sometimes reaching for our phones to share the good news and sometimes rehearsing the words of our latest status to see if we could get through them without losing it. But it was always us …. together… walking out those doors. There are a million different possibilities for 2019 – but the greatest gift is knowing we will walk through those doors together. So many times in the midst of my anger for where we find ourselves I will actually chuckle as I look upwards and actually hear God saying: “you have always prayed for a good marriage” – and even if it had to come from such constant heartbreak and struggle, I have the greatest marriage I know.
Looking over this post I have gone to change it or rewrite it or delete parts worrying it is too vulnerable, too negative, too whiney, too positive, sounds like too much bragging….. but I have decided to leave it. This post was written with the desire to offer hope. Hope to those on all sorts of journeys…. because our circumstances are likely completely differently – but the message is the same: through the mess, pain, confusion – there is the ability for healing and happiness. You just have to keep walking. 2018 I just keep walking – certainly with a lot of pit stops – but I never stopped going forward. And I know if you do your best – even on the days it is crawling and clawing – keep going. There is no way to predict what lies ahead and my prayer is that you get a chance to find it. The faith and marriage that sustained my 2018, had me broken and assuming both were lost in 2016 – I had no idea this is where we would land.
Finally there is one reality that I can’t make sense of – the CF community losses. There just have not been a way or enough healing for me to speak truth or beauty to it yet. My God is a powerful one and I know good can come…. but please know for all of us struggling with those losses or similar ones I won’t pretend to make that OK and I pray for just comfort, peace and knowing those loved ones are sitting with God’s light covering their whole being with joy and love, even while we struggle.
Wishing you all a 2019 of love, hope and faith through all that God brings and I pray for all of your peace, comfort and safety in the new year.