Tonight, I sit with my two sons, daughter already in bed, at the end of a long, exhausting day, hoping that they will sleep soon too, and I won't be awake to see midnight.
But, I am reminiscing, as I am sure others are as well.
This past year has, undoubtedly, been the hardest year of my life. I've seen over 30 turns of the calendar come and go, and in each, there have been hard times and simple times. This year, I cashed in on countless hard times.
Now, writing that likely seems like a plea for sympathy or pity, but it is not. While the year 2015 brought immeasurable loss and sorrow, it brought countless blessings and indescribable joys.
Last weekend, the sermon in church was focused on shutting doors and moving forward through the hallway into the next doorway. It resonated with me on so many levels that I cried multiple times throughout the service, tears of grief and tears of healing.
As the calendar changes tonight, we close the door on the year we lived through. As we do, I find myself in a dim hallway as I wait out the changes that are coming my way. It's not an easy wait and I am often finding apprehension and anxiety as I brace for the unknown. But, I have found peace, most days, in the hallway. I see the door ahead, and I know I will get there, even if it feels like an eternity I must wait.
The trials my children and I went through this past year still catch me in uncontrollable sobs from time to time, late at night, as the pillow beside me is empty and I feel absolutely alone, but it's becoming less frequent.
And that's because amidst the heart shattering we endured, greatness has come. I have found my God is closer to me than I had ever found before. He has carried me through.
This year, while it could have been defined as horrible, is actually, in some ways, quite great. I have found strength in myself. I have been blessed with deep, true friendships. I have had my pride shattered and been brought to the floor in humility. I have experienced grace. I have seen determination in myself in ways I did not know existed. When I could have given up, I pressed onward.
I have seen this year take my biggest fear and forced me to live through the nightmare, but I have seen love I did not realize existed outside the love I thought I could not live without.
As I close the door on the year and reflect on this loss, I realize it is a gain, in many ways. Because while I longed to hold onto and restore what I had for fear of what would come if I no longer had it, my marriage and the "security" that it provided, I can see so clearly now that it was not what I deserved, and there really was no security in it for myself or my children on many levels. While I clutched to it so terribly, we suffered greatly through the fight.
So, I think, I am ready. I think I'm ready to slam that door and seal it. I am ready for the new one, terrifying as it may be to open. Because now that I'm so far through it, I have more clarity than I have had in years.
Sometimes, it really does take hell-fire to purify your life. It sucks. It sucks bad. But, perhaps it is truly worth it after all.
I pray that I continue walking forward with the clarity and strength I find in myself to confess these things tonight. I know I will need God, and I will need my friends and family that have stayed beside me through this all. But, I will make it through. It's not the end, it's the beginning.
Isaiah 43 NLT