Over the past week I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts on 2018. If I had to pinpoint in just a few words all that this year involved and taught me, what would those words be? The struggle wasn’t trying to find the words, the struggle has been narrowing them down to only a few. Pulled in a million different directions of thought, I battled to find one common thread, one theme for this year.
Maybe that’s because this year was the most eventful, difficult, challenging, painful, rewarding, and surreal year of my life. It truly did feel like a rollercoaster; with sometimes just a few days being the difference between my highest moments and lowest points.
Six weeks was the difference between thinking my life was headed in one direction and it very obviously not. One month was the time it took to go from crazy busy days finishing my degree, to having a completely open schedule. Three weeks was the difference between grandpa not knowingly having a brain tumour and then going home to be with the Lord because of it. Again, three weeks was the difference between not having any job offers to going to Toronto three times for five meetings and ending up with my dream job.
There were many times when those rapid changes left me feeling like life was spiralling out of control. I remember encouraging myself to feel numb because I, typically being someone who feels everything so deeply, felt like I would literally break under the weight of my reality. The unemployed days of my summer left me feeling useless and purposeless. My grandpa’s diagnosis left me feeling angry and confused. The sheer nothingness that my life felt like left me questioning everything I had ever built my life upon.
I prayed prayers through tears that I never thought I’d say. I cried out questions and expressed emotions that I never thought I’d feel. And all of the sudden, I was the person who I never understood before. I didn’t understand how Christians could feel so deeply sad and hurt when they had the hope of their faith. I didn’t see the legitimacy of the pain, until I was the one needing understanding, the one needing the space to navigate it, and the one figuring out the line between the validity of my emotions and the overriding truth of God’s Word.
I wanted to let myself feel it all, but that numbness was my coping mechanism. I have never felt so unlike myself as I did during those summer months. And so the fall and winter of 2018 have slowly and beautifully been seasons of redemption. All of the walls I built up, all of the hurt I buried deep, the pain I ignored – all somehow are starting to feel like these messed up but lovely parts of my story. In the unexplainable wonder of redeeming grace I can look back on those desperate and plead-filled moments and count them as joy.
2018 forced me into unknown territory. It challenged me to make sure that my head knowledge was also heart knowledge. It taught me what God’s sovereignty truly looks like. It crushed my expectations, reminding me that His ways are higher than my own. It made me disregard my ideal timing and surrender to God’s instead. The year had major milestones. It was full of moments I’ll always want to remember and some I pray to forget.
But one of the best realizations from this year has been this:
For every low, He provided many highs.
For every tear, He brought joy.
For every unanswered prayer, He answered 10 others.
For every “not yet”, He gave me patience.
For every sleepless night, He brought rest.
For every loss, He provided significant gain.
For every sin, He bestowed forgiveness.
For every heartbreak, He provided healing.
For every doubt, He gave me confidence.
In all of my wandering, He pursued me.
In my shortcomings, He was faithful to grow and teach me.
In the reasons to be angry, bitter and selfish, He helped me to seek humility.
In every dark day, He made a way for light to shine in.
In every anxious and panic-filled moment, He fought my battles.
In every uncertainty, He was the truth.
In every moment of complete weakness, He was the tide of strength that carried me to shore.
God was so faithful to counteract all of the bad, hard, ugly and painful with just as much (if not more) goodness and blessing. And regardless of the wide spectrum of 2018’s events, I can wholeheartedly say that it was consistently showered with God’s faithfulness. Reflecting on the year, I can’t help but see the obvious presence of my utter weaknesses, but the mysterious and palpable evidence of His strength carrying me through it all.
And if I had to go through it all again just to be able to say that, I would dive right in.