A year ago, I sat down and wrote my end of the year blog post reflecting on the past decade as we were entering into 2020 in just a couple of days (here). So many incredible milestones had passed, and as I sat 2 months pregnant with my now 2nd son and knowing that our dream of church planting was a very real conversation unfolding, I knew so many more were yet to come. I sat with expectancy, but also a bit of unease. I could feel God was preparing me for a life-altering year, which I thought would be a, b, and c. The things I had planned on. The things I had discussed. The things I had written out a plan for in my imaginary timeline of events that fit ever so perfectly together.
I have been as open as possible throughout this year and that it’s been, well, difficult. I established this space of the Internet with the intent of teetering the line of “too honest” for the sake of unity and cultivating a space of vulnerability, and yet I have literally found myself in so many scenarios that I literally couldn’t share about. It’s been incredibly hard for me. Whether because it wasn’t honoring to or it was simply not my story to tell, or -like discovering Rory was a boy and not the little girl I had thought God told me I was having- some things have simply taken me a long time to process. Many pieces of our story from the last year will never be told, and I am okay with that. But, I mean, truly, from NYE/New Year’s Day of 2020 when I found out I was so very wrong about what I thought God had spoken to me about the baby in my tummy, all the way to even today as I sit writing… this year has been the year of disappointment. (Or so it has seemed.) Seemingly every detail of our life has been blown up in some way or another. I mean, like, heart wrenching, nauseating, slamming the steering wheel screaming, gasping for breath in between tears disappointment. I have faced grief-filled months of waking up anxious, certain something new would surely pop up that day to cause more disappointment, all within the same months a new baby came to my family who brought me more joy than I could ever imagine. Joy and heartache aren’t separate -they can very much live in the same space- but navigating both at the same time is awfully confusing.
As I sat in the NICU with Rory, alone because COVID restrictions wouldn’t allow for both Paul and I with our baby once I was released as a patient, I would sing worship for hours weeping over … everything. Literally, everything ha. God had told me to name Rory, Rory Liam, because it meant “Protector King. And that through my pregnancy I was going to gain trust in God as our Protector King. And then, as I sat in the most uncomfortable rocking chair surely not designed with postpartum moms recovering with a 2nd degree tear in mind, I would ask God, “You are sure you see what is happening… right? Because, I mean, this is starting to feel a bit cruel if you do. If you’re our Protector King why the $%#$^ am I sitting here in the NICU with my son after everything we’ve been through?” I remember leaving the house one day to see Rory, telling my parents how mad I was. “It’s not supposed to be this way!” I wept in the kitchen wanting to throw glass or plates or something that would show how down right angry I was, not only about my child who for some reason wasn’t breathing on his own correctly, but the way everything in our life seemed to be going. It was exhausting. I was exhausted. My spirit was exhausted. My faith was running thin. How can I keep being “a good Christian” when I feel so angry about how seemingly unfair life appears right now?
I literally am weeping all over again writing this, because oh my gosh I see the fruit on the other side of our hurt. But, y’all, I am here to tell you I have felt seemingly betrayed by God before. I know the feeling. I know what it feels like to think “WHY ME? THIS MUST BE A JOKE.” I am also here to tell you, friend, that He is always working. He is always working on your behalf. Ugh, I know. When you’re in the middle of the storm, hearing phrases like that feels so silly. “Oh sure, He’s working for me… How kind of him to do… absolutely nothing I can see for a glimpse of hope today.” Mhmmm, I can write it out in confidence now, because I am healed from that season. Although, hear me when I say that recovery is a longer process than the initial healing. When you get a sport’s injury, the bone may be healed after time in a cast and it may grow easier to share about what happened when people ask without wanting to burst into tears. However, the physical therapy to keep fixing what was damaged takes longer. Often times you get to play back in the game, but see the PT for a good taping before the game. Let’s say I am in the PT phase hehe. But I am no stranger to feeling hopeless and cynical. And I am sure some of you have felt that before, too. Others of you may even feel exactly like that today as you read. Come. Sit a bit longer. Let me pass a virtual cup of coffee across the computer screen to you and encourage you. In some of my darkest days of 2020, I read the story of David and Saul. David was a man after God’s heart who saw confusing, treacherous days in between the word spoken and the promise fulfilled for his life. And yet, in face of adversity, David always chose honor and to trust God. It was like ointment on my wounds every day when I read what David did, and I saw the same fruit David received in our own life so tangibly every time we exchanged curses for blessing . With every ounce possible within us, we’ve fought to bless the spaces the devil has fought so hard to crush. When the pain and confusion of 2020 didn’t stop -with every new lockdown, every new personal trial, every new unknown that knocked on our door holding hands with our unwelcome friend, Heartache- I clung to the story of David.
When slander and lies came our way, God blessed us so abundantly in other areas of our life.
When we ached to have our baby boy home, He worked miracle after miracle inside the NICU for Rory.
When people we loved walked away, He blessed us ten-fold.
When we stepped out in faith over and over and over toward what we knew was for us, He blessed every step more than we could have asked, hoped or imagined.
God is so sweet. It has somehow worked out that in 2020, in the midst of such pain and confusion, I also experienced the nearness of God in ways I have never known in such a way until this year in desperate need. I have never needed to deeply know God the warrior like I did this year. I have never needed to know God the fierce protector like I did this year. And, it made me fall more in love with my God than I ever have before. This year, though I hope for one never again quite like it, I can say I am better for it. I can say my marriage is better for it. I can say my family has clearer vision for it.
If you are still in the thick of asking God if He sees what’s happening… I get it. Allow yourself to feel that. Allow yourself to be angry. BUT, surround yourself with people who see the good with you and for you when you don’t have the eyes for it. And, stay in scripture. If we don’t remind ourselves of truth consistently about God’s character… then it can be really easy to rewrite a narrative about it that is straight from the lips of the Devil. When Rory turned blue in my arms for the third time and had to be resuscitated, I so desperately wanted to throw a fist up to God. Peace out, man. You’ve clearly left us.
Community and scripture didn’t let me.
Renew your mind daily in truth. Water it, even in the middle of a drought. You gotta keep it fresh. And then, as you know I probably was going here… You will see how good it was. YEP. The sucky things of 2020… it’s for your good. God didn’t design crappy things to happen (don’t get that twisted). Sin in a broken world welcomed crappy things into God’s perfect design. But, God is the only thing or person capable of making crappy, good. I know it is true for you, too. I pray you can see it. I pray you can know it.
I am charging into 2021 with excitement. Not only because I want the heck out of 2020 (hehe) but also because I feel equipped. I feel prepared. I see the mountains ahead for us to climb and I can’t WAIT to do it. I truly believe more is to come that I could have ever dreamt, but it wouldn’t be appreciated if I hadn’t tiptoed on the floor of hell and back this year. You know what I mean?
So, friend. I see you. I see you exhausted after the insanity EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US faced this year. Literally, every single one of us. But man, I hope you can see the fruit of the struggle. I know I am grateful for it. Happy New Year, friend. I am believing the best is yet to come for you, too.