The end of another year.
As I sit here (recovering from a week-long illness) on the last day of 2016 and reflect on the past 366 days (it was a leap year), I can say that it has certainly been an interesting year. This year is particularly refelctive because this is the year that I hit the big 5-0 and I am thinking Where in the world did the time go? How did I get to be so….old?
In some respects, I am happy to see the year 2016 leave because this year was filled with far too many goodbyes and, even though I do not keep records, I am convinced that I attended more funerals this year than all other years of my life combined. Unfortunately, my funeral notebook, which I keep my music for when I play piano at funerals, has been in close reach most of the year.
The year 2016 also brought some personal “milestones” for me, as I continued to work on my personal fitness. In January 2016, I signed up for my first 15K trail run, which I completed in a mind-boggling 3 hours and 42 minutes (yeah, that’s pretty slow), BUT, even though the food was gone by the time I crossed the finish line….I crossed the finish line. I found myself making tiny little goals such as:
run 30 minutes without stopping
run a 5k without stopping
run 60 minutes without stopping
run xxx miles without stopping
It took some practice and patience, but by the time my sixth half marathon rolled around in November, I was able to run the entire thing….something I never thought I could do in a million years. After the November half marathon, I figured that I was on a roll and was planning out this huge race calendar of events for 2017.
Yes, even the best laid-out plans can, indeed, change. A head cold developed right before the November half marathon and, days after the race, went into a nasty cough/chest cold, which gave me some (probably much-needed) rest days. Then, on November 20, as I was minding my own business walking into church, in less-than-spectacular-fashion, the sidewalk jumped up out of nowhere, grabbed my feet and down I went. Hard. On my knee. Oh….it hurt!!
Fast-forward to December 31 and I am on my second week of physical therapy for the knee….which still won’t allow me to run. Between the knee and the nasty chest-cold (which came back last week with a vengeance and afforded me the luxury of sitting around and accomplishing absolutely nothing during my yearly, long-anticipated Christmas break), it looks like my way-cool race calendar of events is on hold for several months.
Like every other year that has come and gone, 2017 will, no doubt, have its fair share of change. For example, I’m going to have to make some adjustments to my fitness program to accommodate the injured knee…and that goal of finishing a full marathon before I turn 50 may not occur. There are forseeable changes on the horizon for my job as responsibilities are shifted and my family, as my adult children begin to spread their wings and fly on their own. On a grander scale, our country is in on the center stage for change as we enter into a time of leadship transition.
On December 31, 1999, I was absolutely terrified of the imminent change that I was facing. As the rest of the world was in a panic-induced Y2K frenzy, I was facing epic fear uncertainty as it was obvious that my 9 year marriage had ended. One thing that was clear as I faced certain changes was that: I had no idea what changes were in store for me.
Years later, it is easy to look back and say, Oh yeah, God was there! Of course He was, but on that dark, cold-ish (I was in Houston, so it wasn’t very cold), lonely night I was clueless, directionless and on my way to being homeless. I cried out to God from the deepest fiber of my being, but I remember feeling hopeless and abandonded.
It was not an easy path. From the day my X walked out the door in December 1999 until the day in June that my divorce was final, I spent those months in a deep, dark crevace….trying desperately to claw my way out to no avail. It would have been so easy to just have stayed in bed for months on end, but my children, who were 4 and 5 at the time, seemed to need me, so I had to carry on. I’ll be honest with you: there was no day by day thing, as it was more like minute by minute. I had to set tiny little goals for myself (get out of bed. Brush hair. Feed kids….yes, I forgot to feed them. Oops).
Eventually, it became easier. That year, the trip to December 31, 2000 took me on quite a ride, as it saw the end of my marriage, a cross-country move back to my childhood home, and an inkling of a new career start. Although December 31, 2000 was terrifying, it was not quite as terrifying as the previous year….but there were still plenty of unknowns.
Each year, the journey to December 31 brings many changes, and this year is no different. There are still many unknowns for 2017. However, this I KNOW:
God is still here in 2017.
God is here today
God is here now
Yes, I still want to complete a full marathon by the time I’m 50, but if I am a few months (or years) late…..it is OK. Yes, my adult children are growing up and spreading their wings….but that is what they are supposed to do. Yes, there will be more funerals to attend in 2017, although I really hope not, but the reality is that death happens. Yes, there will be change.
YES, GOD IS HERE.