Reflecting on 2017 is hard for me. I have sat down to write a handful of times and find myself in a puddle on the ground when I look back at all the things that have consumed us in 2017. If there is one word to sum up how this year was for me, it was survival.
2017 was full of hard. There were many tears with laughter sprinkled in but the hard seemed to constantly outweigh any sort of glimmer of hope. I have felt down in the depths of my soul and there have been plenty of days I have wanted to pull the covers over my head in order to avoid the challenges set before me for that day alone.
The summer brought some glimmers of fun, a new twinkle in my eyes and spring in my step as I looked ahead to my new “career” as a mom blogger. I quickly traded in that joy and found myself bogged down by my own fears and insecurities. The feelings of inadequacy and gloom began to overwhelm me. My heart was heavy and the days began to get harder and harder to face. I continued to turn inward and let very few into my inner most thoughts and fears.
There were several traumas we experienced from the time of Bernadette’s birth through the recent months. Traumas that are painful to experience and feel even more painful to process through. I found myself shoving the trauma further and further back not wanting to face the deep abyss I knew I needed to begin to sort out but didn’t have any idea of where to start. So I didn’t and still haven’t for that matter.
My kids and my husband began to experience the affects of this on a regular basis, life with a mom and wife who didn’t know how to do anything other than survive the day. Feeding Bernadette turned into my new full-time career during tube weaning and has remained that way ever since.
Therapies and appointments have dominated this year. We have transitioned from all three girls at home to one in school. We have been trying to find the new normal as we navigate such unfamiliar territory in what feels like a short amount of time.
The fall brought another traumatic event with our middle, one that sent me into a pit of guilt I never thought I would escape. Mom guilt. The kind that once the enemy has that in, his lies ring far louder than anything else. We left shortly after for what should have been one of the greatest family trips ever but instead I found myself wishing I was wasn’t there in the mental state I was in. My mind couldn’t keep up with the fun that should have been had and guilt continued to pile up as I began believing the lies that I could not or ever measure up to the roll I was supposed to fulfill. A lie that had haunted me ever since Bernadette had been hospitalized in March from RSV. How could I be in charge of these little people? It felt like an enormous responsibility, a weighty one.
Fires raged throughout our county just a couple of weeks after our vacation and all the emotions began to overwhelm me even more. I felt myself closing off more and more and more. Trying to fake it till I made it but was failing even at that.
I had lists of things to do that I felt like I could never accomplish and as the list grew all of my shortcomings blared at me as if they were under a magnifying glass. The lies of the enemy grew louder and louder as I felt myself slipping deeper and deeper.
We started hitting year anniversaries for Bernadette. Her one year birthday, the anniversary of the day we found out she had an emergent heart defect, the anniversary of her first closed heart surgery, the anniversary of the terrifying moments I thought we were going to lose her post-op, the anniversary of transferring to the NICU from the CICU and realizing that we were not leaving the hospital anytime soon, the anniversary of all the incredibly long days we spent in the NICU praying for miracles, the anniversary of her open heart surgery, the anniversary of her in the step down unit, and finally the anniversary of becoming a ICU graduate. Memories flooded me throughout those months. Dreams would awaken me at night, dreams that felt real, like I was reliving one of the greatest nightmares I had ever had.
The holidays came and I started to see little glimmers of sparkle shining through once again. But my heart continued on in turmoil being torn in different directions unable to reconcile the feelings of happiness with the memories of hard. I found it difficult to celebrate as each side pleaded to win my emotions over.
There are so many other memories I could fill this page with. The hard and difficult ones completely dominating the majority of days. The common theme I see is survival mode as we faced a new hard daily. I was living to just get through another day. I watched as my joy had been traded in and the hope I had clung to so tightly in the thick of surgeries became more distant as I gave into the lies of the enemy.
It’s hard to write these words, it’s hard to think that looking back 2017 was not my best year.
But there is good news in the midst of the sorrow because there is HOPE. God is so faithful and He has never left my side throughout the days I have spent surviving my life. Instead He has waited patiently for me and poured His sweet grace out on me every minute of every day. His grace is sufficient.
Looking ahead to 2018, I want this year to move out of survival and into a year where I am thriving, and that starts with replacing those lies with the truth. Asking God to strengthen my inner man even when the days are long and hard.
I’m not asking for life to be “easy” but rather wanting Hope to be the anchor for my soul. For God’s peace that surpasses all understanding to guard my heart and mind, to trust in the Lord with all of my heart, and for God to be the strength of my life.
God is not finished with me. And although I cannot predict what the future holds, of this I can be sure. He is my One True Hope and apart from Him, I am nothing.