I love New Years. I always have and I know I always will. I’m sure if you scroll far enough down in this blog, I’ve probably written about New Years before. Hopefully I have some new insight this year, but who really knows. I tend to learn lessons on repeat. Anyway.. if you’re one of those people that hate reflective posts or dreams for the future or if you think people that make resolutions for January 1 have already failed because they could start any day.. you may want to go back to Facebook and keep scrolling. You won’t like this post. I’m ALL about fresh starts and you can start over January 1 or August 20, who the heck cares. Maybe if people were more encouraging to those that make resolutions for the new year, we’d have a lot more people still following those resolutions and pursuing their dreams. Just saying.
Anyway that’s not what this is about. Really I’m not even posting about resolutions. This is more reflective if anything. I’ve been reading everyone’s one word choices for 2019. You know, when they choose one word they want their year to be about. I absolutely love hearing the words, the why behind the words, and what everyone is looking forward to. I don’t do it every year but I’ve definitely done it before. I think one year I wanted my word to be “intentional” and then a few years ago I chose “the year without fear” as a theme for my year, with a focus on my teaching. That was my best year in my career to date (you know, out of my whopping four year career..) So I was thinking about if I wanted to choose a word for 2019. I do want to and I’ll get to that, but first I wanted to think about the past.
It started with me questioning a lot of things. Can a year really be about one word? Can we have one overlying theme for the year? Like I said, I’m a huge fan of choosing a word to focus on. But I was just having these thoughts. I didn’t choose a word for 2018 (or I forgot it if I did) but I was trying to think if there was one word that could sort of sum up my year.. if there was one theme throughout the year. It led to some great reflection but definitely more than one word. And I couldn’t have had one without the other.
2018 was a game changer for us. I say that every year, but this year I mean it in a whole new way. Life in 2019 will be completely different than I ever imagined. We will continue living a life I never thought we would be. A life that no one would really ever wish for. And that’s all because of what happened in 2018.
Fear. Word number one. This year was the scariest of my life. Anxiety and fear consumed me at times. We found out we were pregnant and that was such a high moment. I had come so far with my anxiety in the past, I didn’t think I would ever allow myself to be consumed with fear again. But then I bled in my first trimester. And that was it for me. Every. day. I wondered if my baby was okay. Sometimes it was one moment a day, other times it was constant. And I know people will say that’s normal, but it wasn’t a normal amount. I was living in fear. Throw in the legitimate medical issues that happened throughout my pregnancy (high blood pressure, gallbladder attacks, more bleeding in the third trimester) and I didn’t stand a chance. I felt guilty for this anxiety and I felt ashamed to admit it for the better part of the year. Once Zoe was born, it would get better. That’s what I told myself. Only it didn’t. If you’ve followed this blog you know that my health declined postpartum and I ended up back in the hospital. While I was there Zoe was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The seven weeks to follow were some of the hardest of my life. Dealing with my hormones, healing from giving birth, learning about a genetic disease that I hadn’t even heard of until I was pregnant.. nothing was easy and it’s still not easy now.
But that fear turned into desperation. Desperation kept coming to my mind when thinking about this year and I think it’s perfect for word number two. I guess most people don’t want to think about their year as a year of desperation, but desperation led to some pretty great things for us. When fear and anxiety left me broken and lost, I was desperate. For hope. For comfort. For peace. For answers. For anything that would get me through everything I had been feeling. And in that desperation our faith became deeper than we could have ever imagined. The desperation was there during pregnancy as well, but we leaned on God after Zoe’s diagnosis the way I wish I leaned on God since I first accepted Him into my life ten years ago. The way we plan on leaning on Him for the rest of our lives. Out of desperation we were praying more, reaching out to friends for support, reading our bibles, clinging to one another. Our desperation ended up becoming something beautiful.
Humbling is the third word that kept coming to mind. Here’s what came up when I googled humbling:
“If something or someone you, they make you realize that you are not as important or good as you thought were.”
Yup. This year was humbling. The way people rallied around us and took care of us not only through Zoe’s diagnosis but through all the health scares during pregnancy, my eight weeks of bedrest, and then in huge ways after Zoe was born and we were making some big decisions, to say we were humbled would be an understatement. “You are not as important or as good as you thought you were.” We thought we could handle things on our own. We thought we were ready financially (if anyone really ever is) to have a baby, we thought we could handle the emotions that came with pregnancy and a scary diagnosis, we didn’t think bedrest would be challenging, we thought we could figure things out on our own. I definitely didn’t want to admit we were struggling. Whether emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually.. I was proud and wanted to be seen as someone who can handle hard things, I wanted us to be viewed as capable and responsible parents. Caring so much about how we’re viewed is embarrassing. But I’m just being honest. It’s hard to admit when you need help. But this year (any year) was never supposed to be about what we can do. It’s all supposed to be about what He can do. And He did some major things, using so many people in our lives. We were blessed through our community in every way possible. It was humbling. And what God did in our lives this year leads me to my last word..
Freeing. This year.. oh my gosh. It’s been the best year. The best year ever. You’re probably thinking I sound crazy after everything you’ve just read. Umm didn’t you just say this year was full of fear, desperation, and humbling experiences? Yes I did. And it was also full of freedom. Freedom to give up control. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from not being good enough, or worthy enough. I am not the same person I was a year ago. None of us are, but I can honestly say I’m a much better version of myself. There wasn’t one single thing that happened that helped me get over (most) of my fear and insecurity. It wasn’t a magic moment or a big revelation that I can describe in details. It was a million little things. It was God whispering to us, surrounding us daily. It was the way He used songs, a kind word from a friend, a Facebook post from someone I hadn’t talked to in years, a tv show.. it was just us living our lives realizing He IS here and He IS in control. Of our daughter who we’re told has a life expectancy of 37. Of me who can be paralyzed by anxiety. Of our finances. Of our living situation. Of our careers. Of or marriage.
Did you know that you can be joyful and anxious at the same time? It’s true. You can have the BEST, WORST year and no one can you otherwise. I know because I’ve lived it. For so long I didn’t want to admit I was anxious again because I thought people would assume I’m miserable and wasn’t enjoying my pregnancy. I loved parts of my pregnancy! I was growing a LIFE. Pregnancy brought me ZOE. I was obsessed with feeling her kick me. Of knowing she was relying on me to grow. I was joyful and anxious. When she was diagnosed I was fearful but still thankful. As she grows I’m still in desperate need of our Savior every day but I’m also confident and hopeful in the future. Having negative emotions doesn’t mean you’re not having positive emotions too. You’re free to feel things. I’ve felt more joy this past year than ever before. Heck, just in these past four months. Having a child changes things already, but having a child with a genetic disease gives you a whole new perspective. Small things bring great joy, and I feel lucky that I’m more aware and present in these moments than I may have been in the past.
In November, about a week after I went back to work, I felt a million pounds lighter. I was taking comfort in teaching, something I feel called to do. I was more scheduled and in a routine, there were less unknowns with Zoe as we were learning more about what day to day life with cystic fibrosis looks like. Mike was home with Zoe so I didn’t have to worry. There were no financial burdens on us thanks to the generosity of those around us. But it wasn’t like all our problems were solved. Eight months ago we didn’t have financial burdens, I was teaching, and we were in a routine. I said for weeks after going back to teaching that it must have been all I needed to feel better. Some consistency. These past few days I’ve realized that wasn’t it at all. I needed this entire year of fear, desperation, humbling experiences, and freedom to get where I am today. He’s been healing me from hurt since before the hurt even happened. On January 1, 2018 God knew where I would be on January 1, 2019. And He knew what it would take to get me there. It’s a beautiful thing.
So my word this year? I think it’s LIFE. Like I said earlier, I would typically go with something like joy, or strength, or perseverance. Those are all positive things that I definitely want over this next year. But I’ll take the hard stuff too. Without my anxiety I wouldn’t have found myself in desperate need of Jesus. Without our desperation we wouldn’t have reached out to our community and been humbled by their support. Without all of it I wouldn’t feel the freedom I do today, and I certainly wouldn’t be hearing God in my life the way I am today. Because I wasn’t listening for it before this best, worst year ever.
So.. what’s your word for 2019? And tell me about 2018.. did you focus on the word you chose? Is there one word that stands out to you as you reflect? I love sharing but as much as I love to share I love to hear about the things going on in everyone else’s lives as well.