It’s been easy for me to forget that we have so much to be thankful for. Although 2018 was filled with beautiful destinations and adventures in foreign places, with countless laughs shared with each other and many family and friends, with working hard to achieve new goals, and with exploring the uncharted territory of welcoming children into our home through foster care, there were many moments of the year where we felt lost and broken. There were many moments where we felt totally defeated.
Our December came with a wave of negativity that we were totally consumed by, and no matter what we did, it seemed we couldn’t fight our way out of the pit we’d fallen into. Though we began the journey of foster care in 2018, it certainly didn’t come without its share of trials and heartache, as among learning to navigate the winding road before us, we had three long-term placements fall through, leaving us questioning everything about our decision to pursue it. We wondered many times whether the timing was right, and we questioned why it couldn’t be. We fell in love with a little boy we almost had, and then cried and questioned some more when we lost him. In our heartache, we explored our options of pregnancy again, setting aside the weight of what we already knew in hopes that our odds may be better than what we had originally thought. Instead, we got more bad news that left us wrestling with the bleak reality that our chances might be even slimmer than we thought.
We wanted to celebrate the holidays surrounded by loved ones and reflect on the goodness of God’s love as we should, but our world had been dulled by our heartache to the point where we could hardly find joy in the small things. We allowed ourselves to ask all the questions we’d been biting our tongues to hold back for the last three years, and they overtook us. The “why”s and the “why us”s that only led to self-pitying statements like “we can’t catch a break” and “we were stupid to have expected anything else.” It’s easy to forget how much we have to be thankful for when we are trying to see it all through tears, and when each time we feel nearly healed from our grief, something else comes along to reopen old wounds. I hated the thought of beginning yet another year as people awaiting a child, and despite our best efforts to change this piece of our lives, we would be starting 2019 with our arms still as empty as when we first began this journey three years ago. I hated the thought that 2019 still might not be our time to grow our family. We’ve grown weary from constantly receiving bad news in that area of our life. Weary enough to have forgotten all the areas of our life that have been flourishing.
What I recently realized: We don’t need to state all the blessings in our lives to know they are there. We also don’t need our lives to be filled with joyous occasions and tangible evidence of God’s goodness to know it exists. Merely breathing, merely recognizing that we’re still here and that we’re living this life for a purpose that is greater than us is enough. With every new morning comes the sun, beautiful and bright, and it never ceases to rise again after a storm. We are able to take part in simple pleasures that make us smile and laugh even at the most unexpected times. There is so much beauty left in this world, so much kindness left in those around us despite the ugliness of violence and war and chaos that attempts to seep in and consume. But even more than that, there is the wonderful truth that we are not alone, nor will we ever be. We belong to the One who made us, who carefully crafted us for this life and for a purpose that is greater than us, and we can live life with an eternal perspective, knowing that our lives have been given to radiate the beauty of our Creator, that every little bit of kindness and love we share with others will make this world a more beautiful place than it was before, that the more light we allow in our lives, the more others will see the light of the One who has taken hold of us.
We are not alone. We are not defeated. Neither are you.
For all those fighting with fear, anxiety, or depression, for all those who feel lost and lonely, for all those who are struggling with loss, heartache, and grief, for all those who feel insignificant and inadequate: if you are reading this and are overwhelmed by life and are fighting to understand your purpose here, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
This life is full of every kind of darkness, sadness, and grief, but there is still light and beauty. Life is good. Don’t allow the bad moments to drown out the good. Allow yourself to take joy in simple pleasures. Learn to laugh at yourself. Life is too short to be taken seriously. There is always something to be thankful for, no matter how small. No matter how dark things may get, there is always light. Pain and heartache and sadness and grief can be overcome. Love is real. God’s goodness and truth can be yours as much as it is mine. Keep smiling, keep laughing, keep living. Strive to be the person that you’ve been created to be. Even if all seems lost, keep fighting. Even if God seems distant, keep crying out to Him. Because He WILL answer. You are significant. You are loved. You are worthy. You are not alone.
“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will appear quickly; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say: HERE I AM.” -Isaiah 58:8-9