Photo by Kelly Franks
A new year. A new page, a fresh start to write letters and words and phrases of what is to come. But before that happens, I have honestly been off the grid for so long, I haven’t even taken the moment to reflect on the whirlwind of the last twelve months. There is something about closure and tying off loose ends that feels….good, and necessary. To unfold the last twelve months and all that has transpired would have been multiple pages and journal entries and blog posts that just never happened. Cancer updates, road trips, travels to LA, summer adventures, more cancer updates from friends around the country, crazy student stories…the list goes on. Despite a deep yearning and desire to write and reflect through pen and page, I think there was also an arcane fear of letting words and emotions and thoughts flow freely from within. For someone who has loved and thrived on vulnerability in previous years, this has been a year of not fully understanding and processing all that has encapsulated the wondrous workings of my mind. All that being said, I still believe there is something so profound and sweet about sharing process and struggle and victory with those surrounding you. My goals for 2016 are to reflect more, journal abundantly, blog more consistently, capture more photos on my exquisite DSLR camera, and simply ride the waves of emotions as they come. So, here we go!
As I ventured back to the Central Coast this weekend, I prepared to return to the “working life” routine. Following a much-needed two-week hiatus of family bonding and relaxation, I decided to go to church on Sunday morning. Usually this wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary; however, this was one of my first Sunday services in over two months. It would be easy to say it was due to travel and busy schedules and conflicting times. But let’s be real: if you want to go to church, you can and will find a way. It’s been freeing and also challenging to admit that truth, and also the truth that this has been a season of sickness, sadness, heartbreaking news, (drizzled with small victories), and God has felt quite distant in it all. In the midst of troubles and turmoil. I have clung to whatever glimpses of hope and joy I can possibly find and yesterday happened to be day when returning to church felt easier, rejuvenating, and more inviting than weeks past. For that, I am extremely blessed and grateful.
Yesterday’s sermon was the last teaching on the book of John for the year. There were two points that really connected with me personally and I finally allowed myself some space to reflect on paper. The first point was sparked through a statement that read, “God uses failure.” For some of you reading this post, church and God and Jesus may not be a part of your life. But I can guarantee failure has been, and will continue to be, a part of your life. Failure, to me, is the reminder that I am fighting, that I am living and trying and creating and expanding my abilities. Failure can actually be ok, dare I even say, good. Furthermore, I’d like to think it’s the recovery and new attempts that say even more about one’s character.
This point on yesterday’s sermon notes led me to the question, “What has God taught you through failure?” As I paused to reflect on this question, the one thought that kept coming to mind was marathon training. As a woman who has now been running (in some seasons, more miles than others) for over 16 years, I have recently felt like my training and inability to run in weeks past is a failure. It has been frustrating and sad and even embarrassing. But yesterday morning, as I sat in the wooden pews atop the favorite ABC green carpets, reflecting with my favorite pink Papermate Ink Joy pen, I was able to see a few positives that have resulted from this speed bump. When I stopped and asked myself what I have truly gained, I realized it’s in the moments when something is taken away that it is most cherished and appreciated. My love and appreciation and pure JOY for running has not always been present; it has felt like a chore to wake up early and log multiple miles at times during this season and previous ones as well. But when my body literally rebels against me and tells me a strong, “NO,” it’s in those moments I remember why and where my love for this sport and activity came from. I think I almost forgot for a few years how much l love to run, especially long distances. The tranquility and feeling of adventure—mixed with the accomplishment of finishing! And add a running group like the guys and gals I have met through Team World Vision and the “Rose Bowl Running Crew” as I like to call it now, and you have the perfect recipe of why runners are such a special breed: friendly, outgoing, compassionate, energetic, a bit crazy, and enthusiastic.
The second point in the sermon today that really spoke to me was the idea that God partners with people—we are coworkers with God. We are not self-made nor are we alone in this journey. We have friends and family and community alongside us. That point has been more than true in my life, especially in this season. I have had multiple friends call, text, send snail mail and letters; the community God has surrounded me with, both geographically and metaphorically, has been crucial. I can’t begin to imagine doing life alone. I was further reminded of this reality when I was at home at my parent’s house over Christmas Break. As multiple neighbors dropped by Christmas gifts and cards and asked about Mom and how she and our family was doing, they also repeatedly asked how they could help and what they could do for us. They reminded us of how long we have all lived on the same street and lived life and community together and wanted to share in our cancer journey with us, in any way possible: soups, cards, hugs; it warmed my heart. Even now, it reminds me of Acts, and the first church ever formed. It wasn’t an organized church made by four walls and a building and designated meeting place and time. Rather, it was a community meeting each other’s needs, sharing meals, working toward a common goal. Today, I am grateful for that reminder. Letting people in, being vulnerable, can be a scary thing, but it can also be extremely rewarding.
As I close these ramblings, I’m not 100% where my blog posts will lead in 2016, but I can type one word to capture my heart and mind in it’s current state: HOPEFUL. I am hopeful for what God has in store for 2016. May it be a joyful and prosperous year for you and yours and may you feel purpose and hope each day of your journey.