It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. Yeah, it was a Dickensian kind of year. Easily one of the worst of my life. And yet….
Starting off the year with a pink slip from my job, followed six weeks later with a pink slip from my husband pretty much ensured it would be a horrible year. Psychological tests put those kind of tragedies in the top ten list of things that rock a person’s world. The kind of tragedies that make one prone to depression, illness, stupid behavior.
And yet…I am still breathing. Still loving God. Still looking for the good in this life and for opportunities to add goodness to the universe. Still surrounded by loving friends and incredible family who lift me up when I cannot stand, who breathe life into my soul when I am bereft.
I pretty much just wanted to curl up and pull a blanket over my head forever. And yet…a precious friend offered me the use of her beach house for five weeks while I waited for him to move out. The peace I found each morning sitting by the water, reading my Bible and journaling, was a balm to my soul. Her gift got me through the hardest time I’ve experienced in years.
It was a year when I was supposed to test for my next black belt. The last thing I wanted was to be at my studio training–I wanted to cocoon. And yet…I continued training–hard–and passed my sixth degree black belt test with honors. At 55 years old (easily the oldest on my squad), I worried that I would be a burden to my team. I prayed that I would more than pull my weight in what was the most physically grueling week of my life. One day while walking 16 miles, 10 of which included carrying a 350-pound log with my teammates, taking not only my turns but turns for others who faltered, I kept talking to God every step of the way. When I thought I could go no further, someone would step in to take my place, giving me a moment to catch my breath and recommit to the task. Six days of little sleep, less food, and nonstop activity actually energized me. Truly, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Still more “and yets” blessed me throughout the year. A last minute opportunity to go on vacation to Cabo right after the black belt test, courtesy of my brother, who knew I couldn’t afford it on my own. His generous gift of a week in paradise allowed my body to rest and my heart to begin to heal.
I got a new job, at 35% of my previous salary. My expenses, however, did not likewise reduce. And yet…my new boss loves the fact that I had started my own marketing agency earlier this year and gives me ample time to work with my Knockout Marketing Strategies clients. God continues to bless me with referrals and interesting work and never fails to meet my financial needs. One more “and yet”: working full time at Concordia University means chapel is available every single day. I walk to the next building for 20 minutes of beautiful time with the Lord, right in the middle of my workday. Not something I experienced in the ten years I worked at my last job =)
Other challenges beset me this year. Nothing hurts a mother more than seeing her children in pain. I found out that one of my sons had lost his housing and was sleeping in his car. Nearly 2000 miles away and without the financial ability to help, I was in anguish over his situation. And yet…I reached out to my brother, who (through the magic of Facebook!) reached out to his network. Suddenly, my absolutely amazing cousins–who I see once a decade if I’m lucky–responded with offers of housing from cities all over California. My precious cousin Joyce, herself in the midst of heartbreak after the death of her father, took in my son. Providence, thy name is family.
I was dreading the holidays as a single woman. Should I bother decorating? Did any of the traditions matter? So many happy people–where did I fit in? And yet…I did. I had a houseful for Thanksgiving–all my children and grandchildren, six dogs, and my closest friend and her family. It was raucous and wonderful. God showered me with joy and closeness to the people I love most in this world. Three weeks later I decided to honor my annual tamale making tradition, sharing my Mexican heritage with close friends.
Christmas was different, but different isn’t necessarily bad. I didn’t have the Christmas I’d had in the past, and yet…it was beautiful. I spent a quiet Christmas Eve with two of my sons, and then flew to Florida with one of them on Christmas Day to visit my daughter and her family. Walking on the beach every day for this entire week, spending time in quiet reflection and prayer, submersing myself in the love of family, has been the greatest gift I could have hoped for.
2016 was not the year I imagined I would have. I still hurt when I consider the loss of my marriage and the way my kids are spreading out over the globe–San Francisco, London (in February), and Florida. I still wonder what is in store for me in this uncharted future.
I have plenty more grieving to do, but I am convinced of one thing: God is the author of “and yet.” He continues to surprise me with the gifts of provision: love, support, encouragement, finances, meaningful work. I pray 2017 is a better year, and yet…I am content with whatever comes my way, knowing that I serve a good God, a good Father, the One who never forsakes me and always loves me.
Lord, grant that I never fail to recognize Your “and yets.”