On 2017Posted: December 31, 2017
I have always loved New Year’s Eve. It’s probably my favorite holiday.
After the sparkle and shine that comes with Christmas, and the few days that follow in a bleary-eyed, sugar hangover and haze, New Year’s Eve gives us time to reflect, reevaluate and plan ahead. It gives us the opportunity to look at how the highs and lows have shaped us and what we can do to keep moving forward. It also gives us the space to spend time with our favorite people.
For the last few years, Ben and I have spent this evening with our close friends. Last year, we went snowshoeing in the Adirondacks, and later re-grouped and spent the evening eating a delicious meal, playing games and reflecting on what was 2016.
This year is different. Ben and I still plan to make delicious food but that’s where our plans end. I know I’ve said this in my last post, but it all still feels pretty strange.
I’ll just come out and say it, 2017 was brutal…and I’ve got a lot of damage.
I’ve questioned my call, my faith and my relationships. People who Ben and I thought we could trust let us down in VERY big ways and some walked away completely, we were harassed and bullied for doing the right thing on many occasions and many things fell apart. I think the worst thing was to watch people for whom I care deeply suffer and I wasn’t able to help or I simply didn’t see it until it was too late. This is not to say that 2017 was all doom and gloom… but many of my expectations about ministry and about life were completely shattered.
2017 feels like a really long-drawn-out war; battle after battle has been fought and there is a ton of wreckage. Simply put, a lot happened that wasn’t supposed to happen. I have said to Ben multiple times, “It just wasn’t supposed to be like this.”
Now as we come to the end of it and survey the damage, it kind of feels like I am finally waking up from a bad dream.
But even in that, there is new life springing forth. There is still hope.
Something has shifted. As strange as it sounds, I feel that God released us. We were told to move forward and doors opened. Some of the struggle finally came to an end. There was also a lot of healing and forgiveness that took place in a short amount of time. There is STILL a lot of healing and forgiveness that needs to happen, but it IS happening. And there is STILL joy, even in the midst of much sadness.
Choosing joy each day sounds really nice. But..this practice does NOT come easily. That said, I firmly believe it is what got me through the toughest days. I can NOT look back on this year and only see destruction because it is inextricably linked to (albeit fleeting) moments of joy, of gratitude and of celebration.
So as I consider this year, what feels like the longest year of my life, I have to say that I am still grateful. I am coming out a bit worse for wear, but I’m stronger and I have grown. My people are stronger. And we are so blessed.
I’m still here. And God is still here. We are moving forward.
Again I stress, this is not a post to say that this year was all bad. There was much to be grateful for and much to celebrate…but I don’t think the celebration and the joy would have meant as much without the heartache.
As I close this post, I cannot help but think of John 1, verses 1-5. It reads:
“In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it” (NLT)
This is a strange passage with a lot to take in, but my biggest takeaway is that Christ was there in the beginning. He was there on the cross. And today, He is still here. He IS that light…and He is with US!
No matter what we are going through, Christ is fighting our battles with us…even when it doesn’t feel that way! He overcame death itself, and He is still fighting for you and for me.
So as we close the book on 2017, my prayer is that we can rest in the knowledge that though we may be a bit bruised up from the past 12 months (I know I’m not alone in this), we are so much stronger than we know. And we are NOT alone in the darkness. Not ever.
This gives me so much hope. And joy. I pray it does the same for you.