This past year has been difficult, to say the least.
A difficult, painful pregnancy with tons of mind-numbing and lonely bed rest, that ended in 24 hours of labor three weeks early. A painful belly injury while pregnant, a result of my own impatient foolishness. Two extremely painful losses of friendship that damaged my confidence in my own judgement of other people. Relentless illness that nearly hospitalized my husband, robbing him of health and peace for the entirety of his son’s young life-so-far, and is still tormenting him now, in ongoing recovery. My daughter came home from preschool with lice, and thanks to a newly discovered allergy to both the treatments and the lice themselves, I ended up bald. Discovering that we couldn’t sufficiently heat our rental house, and moving in the dead of winter to a more expensive apartment with no yard. Nick losing his job to a comedy of errors and efficiency. Losing two cars in less than six months, one to an apparent ruined engine, and one to an apparent transmission failure, at least one of which turned out to be a lie at great financial loss to us. Barely scraping passing grades in college for two semesters, for both of us. Tripping over my cat, dislocating my knee and injuring soft tissue from toe to hip, then two weeks later tripping again, re-injuring the same leg.
It has also been extremely rewarding, in many, many ways.
That difficult and painful, interminable, pregnancy resulted in a beautiful, healthy baby boy – my Arlo, my sixth baby, my second living child, my second rainbow baby. My injured belly healed, with no lingering effects. The loss of my friendships made me wiser, if sad. My husband may still be recovering from nearly eight months of bronchitis, pneumonia, strep throat, and more pneumonia, but he is finally recovering, and that is something to praise God about. I may have ended up bald, but it turns out I actually look alright with extremely short hair, which also happens to be extremely convenient when everything keeps going sideways. We had to move at a highly inconvenient time and for an unpleasant reason, but we were able to move when we needed to, and while I miss having our own green space and ground floor living, I love our spacious apartment, huge balcony, peaceful view, and the best kitchen I’ve ever had in ten years of marriage. Nick did lose his job, but now he can go to school full time, and we’ve worked it out, somehow even coming out ahead. We lost two cars, and in a way that makes my justice-loving heart rage, but now we have a really nice car with a million warranties, and in the end we’re probably better off in the long run. We struggled with school this year, but we persevered, and we made it through, and we’re both on track to graduate with our respective associate degrees in 2018. And while I am still laid up in bed with a painful leg injury, I didn’t break it or tear anything, and it will eventually heal.
And on top of all of that goodness, we celebrated a fantastic Christmas season with my husband’s parents and all of his siblings and their families, I discovered a wonderful online community of fellow nerds that has boosted my spirits time and time again, our children are ridiculously healthy despite a particularly brutal winter, my friends and family threw me the best Doctor Who themed surprise birthday party, and thanks to a horticulture class I took this spring, I put in a good sized container garden for the cost of two bags of dirt and a hanging basket.
Even in the midst of what seems like unending darkness, God is faithful.
As much as I would have loved it if this year had not been nearly so difficult, I am thankful for so much that has happened, much of which directly resulted from the bad. I am thankful for the wisdom I have gained from the painful losses of friends. I am thankful for the new depth of trust and interdependence Nick and I have developed as we’ve been forced to adjust and adapt in the ways we prefer to manage our home and responsibilities, taking care of each other by turns, and learning to laugh through the worst of it. I am thankful for a reliable car, and a comfortable home. I am thankful for my incredible children.
I recently heard a song that really inspired me. Mandisa released a new album this past week, and one of the songs jumped out at me as I was laying in bed feeling sorry for myself over my injured leg, titled “Keep Getting Up.” The whole song is inspiring, but the chorus especially spoke to me…
//When we get knocked down one more time / We swing hard but lose the fight / Don’t forget that the battle’s won / When we keep getting up, keep getting up //
It’s easy to forget to look up when we keep getting knocked down.
I’m no saint, and I’m no martyr. I don’t pray for adversity, and I don’t get excited when I face tribulations. But I do seek to live a life where I can rejoice when I have to endure them (James 1:2-3). Even the worst, most senseless circumstances and pain in the world can teach us something in the enduring, if we let them.
So whatever you’re facing, be encouraged.
Know that you’re not alone. Know that this too shall pass. Know that God is right there with you and will see you through this. Know that while I may not know you, I am praying for you. Know that there is hope.