It feels like the lost year.
I looked back through 2015’s photos on my computer and saw there were fewer than 400 shots. Other years have 2,000-3,000 moments preserved in photographs. Maybe this was a year I just didn’t want to remember.
It was the year of broken teeth. One of my greatest fears actually came true. I spent hours in the dentist’s chair at the beginning of the year, watching bad game shows on the tv overhead and practicing my deep breathing. I have a crown and many many filled cavities. I use fluoride toothpaste now.
It was the year that I broke down and let it all out and confessed that I just couldn’t homeschool, couldn’t stay home with my son all day anymore, and no, I wasn’t healthy, and yes, I needed some help. It was the year my husband quit his job of ten years and we decided to see how we can make this work, for everybody, and trusted the Lord would hold us through it.
So, it was also the year I started seeing the kindest counselor, and found a bit of help for this crippling perfectionism, and for figuring out what our family structure could look like if dad stayed home and mama went to work.
It was the year I stepped out and started a business doing something I love, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t have very many clients— only three, to be precise. After spending so much time planning and designing the business and feeling so vulnerable offering myself to the world, having very little response was genuinely disheartening. I moped around for a long time feeling sorry for myself, and am still not sure what to do. I do know I still want to help people.
This was the year I discovered yoga and began working with an encouraging, gentle instructor and discovered that I can be strong. The body that I loved to use for dancing all those years ago has a new direction and path that I can follow for decades to come. It was the year that my body shook as it worked itself into new poses, and I learned that the shaking is okay. This is how we learn to be strong. It doesn’t always come naturally, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t meant to do it.
2015 was the year I read again, exceeding my goal and making my way through 52 books, an average of one per week. I still bought books that I didn’t get around to reading, but I believe too many books is highly preferable to too few.
It was the year I began working at the campus where, very long ago, I was in a serious relationship with a student and was quite young and a bit lost. I am walking those brick sidewalks again and revisiting those creaky old buildings, a new woman and grateful for the redemptive opportunities the Lord offers.
Thus, it was the year I wrestled with developing a new facet of my identity as a working wife and mother. It was the year I started wearing panty hose. (It may be the year I stopped wearing panty hose too. Edited to add: It was. Panty hose are a joke. -2017)
This was the year I watched my husband accept new responsibilities as a work at home dad, a homeschooling dad, my very present help in times of need. I appreciated and loved him more deeply this year than I ever knew I could. I was privileged to witness his continued unfolding this year, his blossoming, his fulfillment. I have the deepest respect for him, and there is absolutely no place I’d rather be than by his side. We marked eleven years of marriage this year, but we are aiming for 70.
Finally, this year has seen my relationship with Oliver change and develop into something more promising than I could have foretold. I have spent much of the last nine years resenting him. Pushed to my limit with noise and space and interaction, we were just too close, too much. We have space now, and I can see him more clearly, and he is really really beautiful. I have been able to loosen my grip on who I think he should be, and I can admit that he would never let me control him anyway. He is his own man, for better or worse, thanks be to God. I have hope for our relationship, and I am profoundly grateful that despite all of my many blunders and ugly words and attempts to squelch the Oliver-ness out of him, he is who he is, and who he is is a boy who loves his mom, who still hugs me every morning and still wants to cuddle in close and tell me all his crazy Lego stories and made up scenarios.
I began the year with a confession to the Lord that my life felt like being told to swim the English Channel in the dead of night, in winter, with a angry clawing cat on my head. Life felt like drowning and desperation, and completely impossible.
I can see now that Christ didn’t pull me straight up out of the sea when I cried out to him. Maybe he let me tread water a bit, kept his gaze steady on me, and sent loving people to help me along through the cold dark night to the shore. Maybe this wasn’t the lost year, but the finding year, and now it’s nearly over. The night sky is fading into blue, I’m facing east, and I believe with all my heart that the sun is coming and that we will make it together, with love.
Blessed Christmas to you, friends. Hold on tight. Help will come, has come, is here with us.