I normally talk about The Bad and The Ugly in separate posts, but this year The Bad and The Ugly were indistinguishable – it was all ugly.
I didn’t do a lot of public writing, choosing instead to parse and sift through my thoughts via my private journals. My blogs lay dormant as I inked myself raw, bleeding much emotion over those lined pages. It’s an odd thing to look back and see all that hurt and struggle reflected in my own distinct hand-writing.
This particular quote from my journals captures how I started 2014. When tensions between Russia and the Ukraine reached its peak, the Foreign Minister of Poland had this to say about the Ukrainian President:
He was fighting hard to preserve whatever he could and yield the least.
That was definitely a description of me at the beginning of this year. Six days into the year, I found out that I didn’t get the dream I’d been chasing for four years and though I wasn’t devastated, I was knocked off of my game. My work environment was increasingly unmanageable and growing daily in hostility. The Mayor and I were running The Game off of a cliff and I was a mess.
But I tried my best to keep it all contained. To keep the lid on the pain and everyone else a safe distance away. No innocent bystanders would be taken down unsuspectingly by some unwieldy emotion freshly escaped from its compartment and spectators were in no way desired. Change was darkening my doorstep, but I kept trying to preserve what I could of the girl that I was without giving up any more of my heart or energy or soul because I didn’t think that there was any left to give.
One month into the new year and I was already in a tailspin – a hell of other people’s making. I hunkered down and turtled. I did my best to sleep through it and daydream my way out of it. I tried to avoid touching the live wire that was my heart during this time. But it was not to be ignored. In February, I was physically assaulted at work. We set sail four days later for a 9.5 month deployment. And I entered into the abyss.
2014 was the year of bottomless Ugly Things. It felt as if I were restricted in an ill-fitting coffin and the bottom kept dropping out from under me, taking me deeper and deeper under the dirt each time. 6 ft, 24 ft, 128ft…I thought constantly there’s no way this can get worse. And each time it did.
My word for this year was Grit and that’s what I tried to put into practice every day. I made myself a motivational reminder to Keep Going. No Matter What. I chanted “just make it to your chair” as I got out of bed each morning- one small, actionable step to keep me placing one foot in front of the other. And each day, if I could make it to the chair at my desk then I could remove a link in the chain of my countdown. I could tally one more day down in my prison cell.
My life had slowly been unwinding over the last three years (2013 was only narrowly better than this year). Much of my writing bears witness to this slow and painful un-becoming. And on June 23rd, 2014 , I hit the nadir. I was completely undone.
That’s the day that my journals remind me that I didn’t quite make it to my chair. I came up short, unraveling two feet away from the safety of those black, rolling wheels. I ended up on my hands and knees on the floor in my office, wildly sobbing. Unable to breath. Unwilling and unable go any further.
23 JUN: This is so crazy that I don’t know what to do about it. How can I go on from here? What can I do?
In a figurative sense it took me an awful long time to get off of that floor. But I got up. And the girl who finally stood was not the same one who had fallen.
Just making it to my chair was no longer my daily goal. Instead, I started to fully live my days not just count them away. I still had a ton of Grit, but now I was bold too. And not just for myself, but for others who were alsoon the floor.
I found my voice on that floor. A voice backed by a courageous heart that started to speak its truth. This is what is happening to me. This is not acceptable. I will not live like this. Of course I was shaky at first — newly-winged butterflies always are — but I found my balance eventually.
God used the Ugly Things of this year to completely change and refine my character. He shifted my focus from the fire that was burning around me –my circumstances — to the fire that He’d lit inside of me long ago.
21 Jul: God is trying to get me to make goals that have nothing to do with my circumstances
I was choking on the ashes of my circumstances.I couldn’t see 2 ft in front of me let alone my future for all of the toxic smoke enveloping me. But God taught me to dream inspite of all of this. To believe in the things that I could not see. I made it through a fire. I made it out alive.
God used the suffering and hard times of the last three years to show me that there is no place where his love and grace can not go. He showed me time and time again that there is nothing accidental or happenstance about me — not even my circumstances.
18 Aug: Its no accident that you dream in other languages and long to dance under the stars. You are not an accident. And the things that have happened to you? The rough prickly things that hurt you and are not your fault? Those are not accidental either. The Eternal One saw those things long before they ever appeared on your horizon.
God used the rough seas of my life to produce something inside of me that might not have existed any other way. And though it was beyond difficult, and though my heart was shattered, I am grateful for what 2014 has wrought. Here’s to the future that God has prepared for you.