I looked at this picture of my best nine photos on Instagram for this year and my first thought was, “Yep, pretty much sums it up!” For those of you that have followed me for any length of time you understand that basically this entire year was filled with the news of my girls and being in the hospital with my girls and fighting to keep my girls alive and then healthy and then bringing them home and integrating them into our family. I don’t need to do a recap of my year for you because you pretty much already know what it is.
I was telling my husband last week, that over the last few weeks without any conjuring of my own, I have just had gratitude spill from me to the point that it’s almost tangible in the room and it has been the best feeling ever. It’s shocked me and taking me by surprise. Not because I’m not grateful or not because I don’t have any gratitude-there’s so much that I’m grateful for. It’s more that I’ve never had it just spill out of me without me having to do something first. I was dialoguing with the Lord about it and I realize that it’s a mixture of many things. He was showing me that this gratitude is a picture of the work I’ve put in over the years of cultivating that kind of culture in my heart even when I didn’t feel it, but also the fact that you don’t walk through what I walked through and not be changed. I have literally tasted the possible reality of death; of losing not one but two babies in anywhere from 24-72 hours. And if not then, the possibility still existed. And then having them, and not knowing what lies ahead.
2014 and 2015 we’re really hard years. And I mean words don’t even do it justice. 2014 almost destroyed me, it almost destroyed my family, it almost destroyed my marriage. It was a year where I legitimately had to make a choice to return to the Lord or continue down the very ugly path I was on. I made mistakes. I ruined things. I lost things. 2015 was a slow, but overall steady climb upward-with a few pitfalls in between. All because of choices. Good and bad.
I’ve been reflecting on this year a lot lately and I can see all the hardships, the pain, the trauma, and yet I cannot whatsoever be anything but grateful. I swore I would never utter gratitude at 2014 and 2015, but I have. Even in all the yuck, I see how it brought me to 2016. I see how if I had not gone through that process and found my way back to a deeper relationship with my Lord, I would not have been able to do one day of hoping for my babies. The only thing I had in 2016 was the anchor of Truth, Hope, and Peace. And I literally experienced living miracles. I birthed Peace and Joy. I cannot NOT be changed by that. I am writing this as I look at living miracles rolling around in cute pink onesies on my floor, in my home, in my life, on this earth. I “could” be justified in feeling a little negativity at this year. I would assume that no one would blame me. But I physically can’t do it and my heart won’t allow it. More, I won’t allow my heart. I had to walk through healing of trauma. But guess what? I did. And true to His character, the Lord washed it new and healed my pain.
2016, I love you. You are beautiful. You are a rebirthing of things I’ve tilled hard ground for for years and you birthed new things-physically and in my heart, soul, and mind. I praise God for this year. Yeah it was hard. Really hard. But, you are beautiful. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for it all.
To you who maybe has had a really crappy 2016. I get it. Like I said, and I will be honest, I borderline cursed God for 2014 (even though the only one I had to blame was myself). I get that some years were just bad. I get that you would rather just forget. But I want to encourage you…
You may not have had control of what happened to you this year or maybe you did. But you know what both of those things have in common? No matter what, you are 100% in control of your response.
I encourage you to put in the hard and possibly painful work to deal with trauma, with pain, with unforgiveness. Maybe you need to make hard choices. Choices to leave toxic relationships. Choices to work on ones you’ve neglected, abandoned, or all but destroyed. Redemption is a real thing. Forgiveness is a real thing. It can wipe away even the worst of mistakes. Yes, wipe them away. You can be whole again. You CAN forgive yourself and be free from your own punishment and realize that if God doesn’t punish you, neither can others and it will allow you to walk tall again. NO. MATTER. WHAT. YOU’VE. DONE.
2016 may have literally violated you. But friend, the year didn’t. Things maybe. People maybe. But you are in control of you. You control what you become from this. You are not your circumstances.
Do you want to punch me in the face yet? I know……I would have wanted to punch me two years ago too.
But guess what?
I lived this. I walked this very road. At the end of each day I was faced with-CHOICE. A lot of days I didn’t make good ones. And yet, I still stood at the crossroads every day. Until the day I–I chose to change. To do what needed to be done. To let go. To let love. To surrender. That’s when I found grace. That’s when I found forgiveness. For myself and for others. And that’s when the very thing I swore I would never do, I did:
I gave thanks for those hard years. Because as much as I don’t love what happened in them, I am different because of them. But only because of choice. My choice to lean in and be changed.
I am so sorry you’re hurting in 2016. Maybe you’re crying alone because you just don’t understand. Well, I do. I see you.
I pray you choose to open your heart again once more to Love. To Hope. To Faith. To Forgiveness. And once more again when you feel opposition strike. I pray you do what it takes to find YOUR wholeness. Not anyone else’s. Leave things. Find things. Break things. Mend things. Take your time. Feel the pain. Say the things you need to say to 2016, and then-let them go. Look for all the good even in all the bad and one day gratitude will flow out of your heart and from your tongue like river that’s finally been undamned. Choose now. Don’t wait until 2017. Don’t say tomorrow. If it’s ugly, then leave the ugly in 2016. Right now. And look for beauty. It’s there.
You’re here. Right now. And right now, your heart is waiting for you to choose. And the world is waiting for you because it needs you. And you deserve to thrive. You deserve to feel all the beauty and greatness you can possibly feel. You deserve it because you are all those things. Take the good and leave the bad. Dear friend,
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8