Most years I’ve been the one saying ‘I can’t believe it’s already [year]!‘
With the appropriate reference like ‘I’m still writing [previous year] on my [thing not as outdated as checks]!‘
But this year?
Oh baby. Not this year. Six days into 2015 and 2014 feels light years away, and that’s the grace of God. Feels like settling in for a long drive, but knowing that you’re heading home.
I’m late to the ‘year-in-review’ posts (and the Christmas posts and the New Year’s posts and the all the posts okay) so let me just say this:
2014 was the worst. It was the best, but it was the worst. It really was, and I’m allowed to say it. I was at my worst and my best in it. Six days into the new year, with 2014 ever growing smaller in the rearview, I can say that I’m grateful for last year, stone-cold hard-truth grateful. And also that I welcome every day of 2015 that takes me further away from it.
We’re nearing the end of the heady wintry combo of Christmas-New Year’s-anniversary– 1 year of marriage in five days!!!–and so Nate and I have been interjecting ‘remember when’s’ throughout the days since January 1. They’ve run the range from the fun
(‘remember when we took our wedding cake to the hotel room and it melted so we drank it from the champagne glasses that the hotel sent up’)
to the mundane
(‘remember that this time last year we were skyping and you were in the Tokyo airport and I had just gotten back to Daegu’)
to the please-shall-we-forget-that-bit
(‘remember when we had a giant fight on Valentine’s Day because of a miscommunication via text message’).
But aside from hilarious-to-us conversations I’ve been prompted to ruminate on the past year and on its highs and its many lows.
Last year was stable professionally. We have good jobs and didn’t have to worry about them. We could afford the many hospital and doctor visits. We could afford the juicer we ended up buying (on sale, with gift cards) which happened to contribute to the decrease of said hospital visits. One of my little brothers got married and another little brother became a dad for the first time. I made this blog. Nate made a blog. Nate began the ordination process. We decided to move to California. New friendships sprouted and old ones bloomed.
And of course, I married Nathan.
I can’t explain how much God has used him in my life, and how much it’s meant to grow with him. I’m addicted. Marriage has been the setting for some of my worst moments this year/ever, but that’s meant that it’s also been the setting for God’s greatest redemptive work in me. Our first year has tested our vows in some very literal ways. Better and worse and sickness and health. You guys, my husband– he’s incredible. So patient. So faithful. So funny, and so sweet. And biceps for dayyyyyz. #slay
Even just writing that paragraph has distracted me from the lows of the year, which is no small feat.
2014 was the Year We Got Sick. Because listen.
I had mutant canker sores for weeks that reduced me to eating frozen bananas because it was all I could tolerate. Nothing helped, until a combination of brushing five times a day and alternating rinses of hydrogen peroxide and Listerine healed it all up. Now, nine months later, I still get the occasional canker sore more frequently than I used to, but nothing as bad as that initial festerfest. Then, Nate had UTIs. UTIs that eventually landed us in a Korean emergency room with our pastor and her husband in the middle of the night, UTIs that eventually got diagnosed as chronic prostatitis. In a healthy young man who was barely 30. Which was treated with drugs that gave him such awful reactions that we decided diet change and hoping were better than drugs and misery. Thank God, dietary changes he made have made a huge difference, and he hasn’t had an episode or a hospital visit in months now. Then there were the series of colds and coughs and Nate-threw-out-his-back LITERALLY when we were heading out the door to church.
Then there was early summer, when I caught what we thought was food poisoning, wherein I was incapable of being out of bed for more than a few hours at a time and couldn’t eat anything but popsicles, and this went on for weeks, until my 27th birthday. A Wednesday night, when I stared at 3 positive pregnancy tests and texted a picture to Nate at work. Followed by a Thursday of progressing from panic to joy to plans for the future. Followed by an early Friday morning cab ride to that same emergency room, a transfer to a different hospital, and a three-day stay before the minor surgery that removed the remaining traces of what had been.
Mutant Canker Sores and Prostatitis and Miscarriage.
I have so many posts written and unpublished about the miscarriage, and maybe one day I will share them, but the nutshell is that God is good, good, good. And He took very good care of us, and that counts as a high, even in the low of it.
Aside from physical sickness, 2014 was the year God knocked away every single thing I relied on or thought I could trust that wasn’t founded on Him. This was the Big Stuff, the stuff that hurt worse than any illness. The repercussions that linger long past aches and pains. It was an everything-must-go sort of year. Relationships I’d built up for years were uprooted. Self-image completely dismantled. Beliefs overturned and revealed to be false. Wounds. Betrayals, even. Hurt like I did not know was possible.
I have seen that even the lows glorify God. In the midst of turmoil this year–physical, spiritual, emotional– I’ve learned to take the tumult to the Throne of God. Because this year knocked me out. Dragged me down low, took me places no one at all could reach me, including Nate, no one at all but Jesus.
Which is why I will remember 2014 as a year of Mercy over Judgment.
Mercy in the form of nurses who spoke English and slipped us encouraging notes when they saw us grieving.
In a husband who sacrificed himself to ease my mind in the midst of his own pain and hurt. Who repaid good for evil and patience for selfishness. In friends and family who prayed and fought for us when we couldn’t fight for ourselves.
Mercy in the words of Scripture that spoke the pain I couldn’t articulate. Mercy in the love of Christ to press me to the lowest point so that I could see how much I need Him. Mercy when I deserved to be condemned and abandoned and everything around me reinforced the idea that I would be. Mercy in the upward glimpses that come so often now.
At the end of it I’m so glad for 2014. So glad I am learning to put my hand in Christ’s and let Him lead the way into what’s ahead, no matter what it is.