It’s hard to put 2018 into words. But if I’ve learned anything (and I’ve learned a lot this year), it’s that you can’t avoid your life when things go wrong. We live in a society that treats ease as an expectation, when it’s just a privileged (and random) reality. It may seem doomsday-esque, but YOUR life could turn upside down tomorrow. Ask the parents of Sandy Hook—or this year, Parkland. Ask the mother who was in one moment driving her kids to ballet and the next in the intensive rehabilitation unit teaching their child to walk again post car crash. Ask the Guatemalan mother who sought asylum and in a flash was separated from her child, still wondering if they’re okay. Ask the Syrian parents whose home was bombed. You can’t marginalize hardship. It’s not an exclusive club.
I’m writing this from Aflac room 554 at Scottish Rite—a floor that has truly been a home away from home—holding lots of awful days, but just as many sweet moments and nurses who have become dear friends. Hattie is eating veggie sticks and we’re watching another Disney movie snuggled up and I’m amazed at how resilient and healthy she is. Looking in (albeit, it is a hospital room) things look normal, perfect even.
Yet down the hall, there is a family weeping. They have taken up residency in the hallways for the last 24 hours and you just… know. This. This is the reason I have such mixed takeaways from 2018. I have seen too much. I have seen families with declarations of faith and prayer teams and t-shirts with their child’s name on it walk in and out of the cancer journey since we have been here- leaving broken, batterered, bruised—and childless. The other day I was reading comments on a family whose child is cleared of cancer (Praises!) and the comments were all about God having a plan and having favor on that family. God is good! A Healing!
But God still has to be good for this family down the hall, the one with a hole in their heart. There is no favoritism in the Kingdom of God. I have to believe that. Even as much as I want to believe otherwise. I want the favoritism. We have this unwarranted belief heartache is the exception to a perfectly curated life, when in fact, in brokenness, it’s the rule.
I know this feels pessimistic, but it’s not. It’s perspective. And it’s needed. Because once you accept brokenness, you can find joy within it (not just without it).
This year has been hard, but it has also been Holy.
Next year will be hard, too.
And that’s okay.
We know we can walk through fire and not get burned.
One of the images at the beginning of Hattie’s cancer diagnosis was just that…
That we wouldn’t be burned…
we would not even smell of smoke.
But, of course, we don’t know what 2019 will hold. No one does. But we know there will be gold within the cracks – gold that shines with Hope for something more.
So here it is, our year in review.
May we all walk into 2019 bolder, kinder, and braver than ever before.