As I look around at my messy house, drinking my coffee and listening to the fan hum, I can't help but think about everything that happened around this time last year.
One year ago today, I was in the midst of trying to figure out how to navigate motherhood with a child struggling with suicidal ideation, where sleepless nights and many anxious moments seemed to fill up each passing day. At the same time, I was finishing up my Master's degree, realizing that my hopes of heading toward the pastorate were quickly dying before my eyes.
I found out my brother had relapsed again, I had to navigate a spiritually abusive relationship, and then my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
On top of all of this, Ryan and I came to the painful decision that it was time to step away from our beloved Church community.
As I reflect upon all that was going on a year ago, I can see how messy our stories really are, for they are tasked with holding the complicated tension between the challenging and beautiful, joy and grief, laughter and pain, growth and losses.
It’s always both-and.
When I reflect on all the hard, pain, losses, and grief I experienced, I can see there are sprinklings of beauty, joy, laughter, and growth.
I’m able to see that amidst the pain, there was a lot of good that happened as well, however trivial some of the moments may have felt at the time:
I completed my Master’s capstone paper, where I received an A and excellent feedback from my professor.
I preached my first sermon and went on my first solo retreat. I even somehow managed to graduate with my Master's degree with straight A's without a Bachelor's degree.
I was blessed by sixteen incredible artists, who captured my vision so we could create a journal full of beauty that I was able to compile, complete, and publish.
I have learned to stand up for myself and make boundaries. I am much better at knowing how to differentiate between believing what others say about me versus being who I know I am and choosing to believe the latter.
A lot happened one year ago. A lot of really, really tough things that brought me to my knees. A lot changed in my outward circumstances, the direction my life was heading, and my inward soul.
It is in this practice of reflection that I am able to see the warm rays of sunlight melting through the dark clouds.
I now know that some teardrops taste saltier than others.
I can hope in the freshness that comes after the fiercest of storms.
I can linger as I notice, ponder, and wonder at the gracious beauty sprinkled throughout the deepest pain like little pieces of Hope saying, "I love you. Hold on. I'm right here. You are not alone. I'm with you."
When the hour feels darkest, may a ray of sunlight pierce through the storm you find yourself in.
When the day feels long and hard, may a sprinkling of joy bubble forth within you.
When the weeks drag on with no end in sight, may Hope's whispering song cradle you forward and through until rest and peace are found. Amen.