Hindsight is 20/20.
The past couple of weeks I have been mulling over the events of 2018 looking for themes or lessons that would help me process the year. Reflection is really important for gaining clarity from past experiences and creating direction for where you want to go in the future.
It's been good for me to think through the past 12 months and I want to share with you my 2018 recap. I share this partly because I want you to know what some of the currents of my life have been and the lessons I've learned in 2018 that impact my work on Make Healthy Easy, but I also share it because it's just therapeutic to write it and get it out of my head. Perhaps something I've experienced resonates with you or you have something encouraging to share with me.
I chose the words "scars" and "glory" for 2018 because this is what I feel like I was left with after this year. I have experienced some pretty big lows this year as well as some fantastic highs. Interestingly, many happened simultaneously, which is both confusing and pretty cool. When I use the word "glory" I am referring to the definition: magnificence or great beauty. This is something that I am learning through my life: scars and glory often go together. Here's what I mean.
My first "scar" of the year came on my birthday, January 9th, when I found out that one of our favorite former football players and current coach had suddenly passed away. He collapsed during a rec football game, became unconscious, and died on the way to the hospital. He was in his mid 20's. That night literally went from happiness and joy (i.e. "let's eat cake!") to the deepest of sorrows. I remember the moment of finally being home alone after learning the news, kids in bed, and letting it sink in. My heart fully broke and I cried one of those deep, aching cries that takes you to your knees. It brings tears to my eyes to this day, almost a year later, when I think about not having him in our lives.
The only glory that I have been able to reconcile from this loss is from the young man's funeral service. His memorial service is one I will never forget as it was filled with God's glory. The church choir that sang was magnificent and filled with power. The minister that spoke, the man's cousin, preached God's word and Gospel with reverence, and again, power. My husband, Coach, also spoke, and I will never forget what he said. He gave a mini sermon himself that was so awesome, it made me smile, because it honored God and honored this man who was now in heaven. While none of these things fixes the sadness and loss of his life, I experienced God through it. This is what I consider the glory.
The next event that was most definitely "glory" was our oldest son, Jackson, asked Jesus into his heart in February and was baptised in our church in April. Being a parent has a lot of ups and downs, and it's hard to know if anything you are teaching them actually sinks in. When Jackson so clearly understood God's love for him (and all people) and what Jesus did on the cross, it was glorious!
In April I finished my last semester of teaching at University of North Florida, at least for now. I knew I was being led in a different direction, but it was truly a difficult decision. I loved my students and had a great job. On one of my last days, I will never forget a sweet student finding me with tears in her eyes, truly sad that I had resigned. Leaving this "safe" job was really hard, but I have since seen why I was to do it. My life has become open to so many new things that I now have time to pursue including more seriously mentoring graduate level dietetic interns. So, in hindsight, this whole experience left me a scar and some glory.
June of 2018 hit me with a double whammy of scars. First, midway through the month I got one of those phone calls - the are you sitting down because I have terrible news phone calls. One of my closest RD friends called to tell me that our other dear friend had committed suicide, something no one expected. It was a summer morning and I had just arrived at Coach's football workout with the boys.
After the call, I walked out to the practice field like a zombie, trying to make sense of the news I just received. I found Coach on the field and without hesitation blurted out the news to him, collapsed in his arms, and began crying. I hadn't communicated with my friend who died since April, but I knew she was struggling with anxiety and depression. So many thoughts filled my mind for the next weeks especially as our other colleagues learned that this happy-on-the-outside person was actually not very happy. It's still hard for me to believe that my friend's pain was so dark that she felt she should make that choice. My heart is most certainly scarred for life and I miss her deeply. But in the experience of grieving, God once again showed up to reveal glory and beauty. I was grateful to be able to travel to my friend's funeral in Mississippi with the friend who called me to tell me the news. We cried, laughed, ate and drank together to honor our beloved friend. It was a blessing to meet her family, hug her husband, and share love and sorrow from a large group of dietitians who loved this friend but could not attend the funeral.
The second whammy unfolded over the month of June as I began to have strange pain in my left glute and hamstring muscles. It was sporadic at first and seemed to be connected to overdoing it at a workout. With rest, the pain subsided and I would try to exercise again. But by mid July the pain had increased in severity and duration. Now every time I stood up from a seated position I had shooting, make-you-want-to-curse, pain go down my left leg. It would make me tear up sometimes and I could not move until the pain passed.
Still not knowing what was going on with me, I began some therapies like massage and chiropractic adjustments. None of them made a difference. So after a few weeks of no improvement (this was about late July) I went to an orthopedic surgeon, just to get an opinion of what else I could do. To make a very long story short (July through November), it took a lot of advocating and time to get a MRI showing I had a badly herniated disc in my back, find a physical therapist who could help me feel better, and end up at a neurosurgeon practice specializing in minimally invasive disc repair surgery. I'm finishing out 2018 with a legit scar from surgery on my lower back and I'm back and forth on the glory I can find from this whole experience. I struggle with anger over being injured in the first place as I feel like I take decent care of my body. I haven't had a proper workout or sweat session in over 5 months and not quite sure when I will be able to return to "normal activity", whatever that will be. I do, however, now have a deep empathy for those who live in chronic pain. I get it.
If I'm honest though, there have been so many glorious experiences that have come as a result of and through this journey of pain, surgery and healing. First of all, I feel like my world has opened up to new people that lived so close to me, but our lives had not collided yet. I've been beyond blessed by new friendships I have developed this fall through therapy and related meetings. Second, God has most definitely been working on my heart through this season. Weakness is awful feeling, but it does wake you up to your neediness to God. In the most gentle and loving ways (minus the actual pain) God has been whispering His love and faithfulness to me and reminding me of His calling on my life. I know that may sound weird as it's kind of hard to explain in a short paragraph. If you ever want to sit down to coffee and hear the details, let me know. All I can say is that I don't think I would change my circumstances because I've experienced so many tiny glories through it.
Football season this year also came with its own scars and glory. First of all it was a hard season for our team, and certainly Coach. Our team experienced more injuries of key players than I can count on both hands. They were crippling. Our record suffered and our team took losses to schools that had NEVER beaten us in school history. That was not fun and left some theoretical scars on us.
Throughout this whole season there was glory though that brought many moments of joy. This year was the first time in a while that I've had a strong group of coach's wives/significant others. These ladies were amazing, traveling to all the away games and wholeheartedly supporting the team. It has been a huge encouragement to me and I'm so thankful for these women (love you ladies!).
I was also blessed by my husband as I walked alongside him through this tough year. He's been a head coach for 6 years and the way he has grown has been tremendous. I believe God brought him to this team at this year to be their coach. He was the man for the job and God carried him through.
So this is my 2018, for the most part. There's certainly a lot more I could write about like my travels to Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Chicago, New Orleans, D.C, and New Jersey or the work accomplishments I was blessed with. But what I've written is probably the most real, deep stuff of the year.
If you made this far through the post, thank you for sticking it out. I know this is different than what I normally post but I have felt compelled to share it with you. I hope you found something here that encouraged you. Maybe your year was filled with scars and glory too. I'd love if you left me a comment and shared some words that describe your year. Get it out of your head and let it rest on your life and solidify in your memory.
And now we look to 2019. I honestly believe that all that I just shared is going to significantly shape the work I do next year. I'm pumped about it. I am different person at the end of 2018 then I was at the beginning. I think we all probably are.
Thanks for reading friend,