Yesterday I officiated a funeral. This was not your typical funeral. For one thing, I was the only one in attendance. For another thing, I did both the killing and the burying.
Most years come to a gradual end and quietly die of old age on December 31. People pay their respects through small gestures. Year in review photo albums, comments on the highs and lows, resolutions in hopes of tweaking some things for the next year…
I decided that I could not allow 2015 to have its own typical, peaceful end. So I took it upon myself to kill it.
As if a small bit of justice can be served by me killing it early, having the final word. So, on December 18, I killed 2015. Burned it and buried it.
And let me tell you, in case you are ever planning to burn a book that represents a year of your life,
it’s not as easy as you might think! I thought I would flick a lighter and watch the whole book become engulfed in flames… Yeah, not so much. This two hour process involved multiple lighters, rubbing alcohol, a burned thumb, and having to put out the “not quite a fire” so I could pick up the kids from school. But, in the end I won with a can of gasoline!
I’ve experienced enough this year to write at least three books about! And I probably will. But here is the short, blog-sized version:
January-February: Dialed 911 at 3:00AM in an attempt to save my husband’s life. Lost my husband to mental illness and didn’t know if he would ever come back.
March-April: Fought to bring my husband back from a scary, dark place.
Was confronted with massive pain from my childhood that I had to begin to process.
Fought to keep my head above water and JUST BREATH as a mom, a friend, a coworker.
May: Fought God. Almost walked away from my marriage. Ultimately surrendered to God even though my heart was screaming at me to do what would make me happy.
June: Our community was devastated by a massive flood on Memorial Day weekend. Being on staff at my church, we all jumped in with both feet to aid in flood recovery. Emotional and exhausting.
July-August: These were months of some rebuilding. I was spent completely, like a car sputtering to a halt, out of gas. But across all the categories of my life, I was beginning to see bits of healing and progress.
September-October: Was blindsided by a confrontation with a dear friend that left me reeling. It was big and deep and painful. Felt like the final blow to my heart for the year. I started shutting down.
After a year of staying vulnerable and transparent through so much pain, I reached a point of wanting to put up a barrier and protect my heart. Enough pain! I am done!
On Oct 30, our community got hit with a second devastating flood. And on that morning, I sat in a dark closet as a tornado hit our house! Yep, that’s right, a tornado as the icing on the cake!
As tornados go, the damage was quite minimal and my family was all safe. I am so thankful for that! But there is still work to be done. As I write this I am looking out the window at the tree house that is dangling from the remaining portion of the beautiful tree that was torn down.
November-December: I have fought the urge to run, the temptation to harden my heart. I have come close to letting my heart settle on the thought that I don’t need people, that it’s too risky to be vulnerable.
This year chewed me up and spit me out! It threw me to the ground like a broken up, useless tool left to rust and decay.
BUT! I have come up swinging! I’m not giving up this fight! 2015 may have beat me up, but it didn’t take me out. I’m in this thing called life, and I’m walking forward with purpose and determination!
I truly hate 2015. But I also see how God has taken the ugliness and has turned it into growth. I have learned so much. Trusted in new ways. Accumulated so many stories that I know will bring encouragement and hope to people when I share them.
And I’m grateful. I’m grateful for the people who have listened to me use a million words to try to process the pain, confusion, temptation, hope, healing…the emotions. All of the emotions!
I’m grateful for the friends who have seen me at my ugliest and worst and still call me friend. For the wisdom I’ve gained by pressing through the hard stuff. And mostly, for my abundantly faithful, deeply loving God. This year hasn’t caused him to skip a beat.
Those are the things I will carry with me into 2016. As for the rest of this horrible year, I say, “Die 2015!! Your time is up and I’m taking you out!!”
I will simply consider the next 13 days to be a reprieve. A 13 day break between the end of 2015 and the fresh beginning of 2016.
I will rest. I will laugh. I will hug. I will dream.
I won’t revisit the pain.
I’ll be ready to soar in 2016!