This year has been challenging in ways I could never have imagined nor anticipated. It’s been that way for most of us I think.
Communal grief, pain and loss have wrapped themselves around the unique grief, pain and loss of hearts everywhere.
Definitely plenty to give a person pause.
And while I do believe it’s a good thing to reflect every so often I’m not certain it has to be on the same date every year.
But since the world seems to agree on this one, I’ll join in:
Turning a calendar page doesn’t guarantee a fresh start. Resolutions, affirmations, hopeful aspirations can’t erase the marks we bear from previous life experiences. I’m all for declaring boldly that tomorrow may be better but I’ve learned the hard way it might be worse. So I hold my hands open either way and adjust my stance to accept whichever it may be.
Attitude makes a difference.I despise silly little mantras that claim I can will my way out of every dark and desperate situation.Bad things happen. Sorrow and sadness are appropriate and reasonable reactions to hard times. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but feel the feelings, let the tears fall and allow my heart to experience the pain. But I can choose to turn my attention to whatever may still be beautiful in my world. I can lift my eyes to tiny flickers of light on the horizon. I can embrace joy along with sorrow.
My worth is not tied to external accomplishments or society’s arbitrary markers of success. I refuse to listen to the enemy’s lies whispered in my ear, “You are less than. You are a failure. You only count if your ‘wins’ outweigh your ‘losses’”. A new year may feel like a new beginning but it can also be a stark reminder of last year’s list of resolutions that may or may not have yielded measurable progress. Striving for improvement is healthy. Beating myself up for not meeting every goal is not.
Things can be replaced, people can’t. I’m not making light of the very real and very painful loss so many people have suffered this year as businesses failed, income dwindled and hopes for financial progress dashed. It’s no small thing to come back to ashes where your home once stood. Standing in line at a community food bank for a box when you used to stand in line at the grocery store is humbling. But if my family is alive and (relatively) well at the end of the year, we can work the rest out together.
The only investment with a guaranteed return is love. Sure I try to plan for the future. I eat right, exercise, save money and maintain my home and car all in the hope that investing time, energy and effort today will pay off tomorrow. But truth is (as we’ve all learned this year!) outside and unseen forces can undo the best laid plans and preparation. But love is never wasted or destroyed. All the love I pour into others lasts forever.
This time last year I was hope-filled and looking forward to a less stressful, amazing twelve months.
That’s not how it turned out.
I’ve learned some things though.
So I’ll carry that wisdom into 2022-no lofty resolutions or proclamations-and settle for survival ❤
February, 1992 I came home from the hospital with our fourth baby and woke up the next morning to a house full of children ages infant to six. I thought that would be the most stressful and challenging season of my life.
I was wrong.
This season of grief has required more strength, more endurance and more faith than all the sleepless nights, harried days and craziness of homeschooling and nursing babies and changing diapers ever did.
Today is thirty-seven years since we said, “I do” and had absolutely NO idea what that would look like.
I first shared this a few years ago on our anniversary because I wanted other bereaved parents to know that while it is hard (and isn’t marriage always hard?), it is not impossible for a marriage to survive child loss.
We are definitely not the perfect couple. We fuss and we struggle. We sometimes retreat into our own separate worlds as we process some new aspect of living this earthly life without one of our children.
But we have learned that we are stronger together and that we are willing to do the work necessary to stay that way.
Today my husband and I celebrate 37 years of marriage.
Our thirtieth anniversary was a mere two months after we buried our son.
Here’s the last “before” anniversary photo (2013)-unfeigned smiles, genuine joy, excitement to have made it that far:
So here we are a year later and the headlines still proclaim, “Just wait! It’s going to get better!”
In some ways things ARE better-there are vaccines, treatments and protocols that can chip away at the virus. Toilet paper is back on the shelves. Working from home is working out for a number of folks who love the flexibility.
In many ways we are still in a holding pattern. Waiting for life as we once knew it to once more be available.
Young people have lost important opportunities and are anxious to not lose more. Old people have lost precious time with children and grandchildren and are oh, so aware that every passing day is one less to spend with them and build memories.
So we’re still practicing this whole waiting thing. And it’s hard.
It’s hard to wait.
It’s harder to rest patiently for something you desperately want .
That’s why children shake the presents under the Christmas tree and grown-ups dip into their savings.
It’s also why we so often doubt that God has things under control.
When circumstances require sacrifice I want the Lord to step in and fix them. I want my omnipotent God to use a little of that power to make my life more bearable. And when He doesn’t, I’m more likely to call His character into question than to doubt my own motives.