Hey y'all! So it's been a while since I've been on here...over 10 months to be exact. As much as I love to blog...it's like therapy honestly and an outlet (aside from running) and I have missed it. With that said, I HAVE had my fair share of writing this year...So. Much. Writing. To. Be. Exact. You see, this has been a big year for me with graduate school and it has consisted of a plethora of papers. Honestly, it was more papers than I thought I could physically and mentally handle, but I got by. What can I say, it's been hands down one of the toughest years I have ever done in my life. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I nearly broke and caved into the pressures that this year has put on me...can't begin to tell you how many tears were shed along the way. This year tested my patience, my strength, my resolve, my abilities, my calling as a mother and as a woman and as a teacher...the list goes on. I hate sounding like a complainer, but as always, I like to be open, raw, and honest with you guys about...well life. We all go through trials and hard times, and it can get messy...don't let social media fool you.
This was a messy, rough year for me. I had a full plate between being a single mom, working full time, and being a graduate student. It always seemed that the 24 hours the day gifted me just was never quite enough. I longed for each day to give me just a bit more time, but alas...it doesn't quite work that way. I somehow managed it off very little sleep. I averaged maybe 4 hours of sleep a day...no exaggeration. I think one of the things that helped me through this year was accepting that this year and the challenges with it make up merely a season for me. As much as I wanted to give up at times, I knew I had no room to do so. I could not slack in my role as a mother, as a teacher, and as a student. Each one of those roles depended on me.
As I sit here and vent about my year and the challenging realities of it, what is one of the themes that you see me consistently writing down with pen to paper...or in this particular case, fingertips to laptop? You see, there are so many "I" statements. "I" this and "I" that...like I've done all this year alone. I think God is probably looking down at me at this moment, chuckling a bit...maybe even shaking His head at my ignorance...and He humbles me. Because as much as I want to think I did any of this myself this year, I come back to reality, and I'm reminded that I was never, EVER, alone through any of this. You see, I am NOT capable of handling this life on my own, and I never will be. That's not a dig on my abilities, but I'm also not so prideful that I can't admit that I need God and the strength and courage that he gives me...daily. I yearn for the hope that He puts in my heart.
Have you ever put much thought into hope and what it means? By definition it means, "a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen." No offense, Websters, but I think the biblical meaning seems more reassuring. “Hope” in Scripture refers to a strong and confident expectation. I think we get up every day and do things that we are supposed to do...we work on the goals that we may have...whatever they may be...because we have hope for the outcome. For instance, I train a lot as a runner putting in hundreds of miles on the road, weekly strength training sessions, hours of cross training weekly, and making a point to eat healthy...all for something that I won't see immediate results with. Why? All because I hope to look and feel a certain way. I want to look leaner and more toned. I hope to be as healthy as possible for the long haul. I hope for my body to be as strong as possible, should my cancer return. I hope to become a stronger runner in competition. None of this is guaranteed of course and requires dedication, but I hope for it, so I work at it.
While the hope I have in the outcomes of these earthly things is never guaranteed, there is a source of hope that is 100% guaranteed. That is God. You see, the Bible tells us that God is THE source of hope...not maybe, not possibly, but that He is THE source. Romans 15:13 tells us, "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." There are many things in this life I am so unsure about, but if there is one thing that I do know...it's that God can't let me down. He is incapable of it, so I trust Him no matter what craziness is going on in my life. So as much as this year has been one of the absolute toughest that I have ever lived through, I had to remind myself daily, weekly...goodness sometimes minute by minute because that's all I could muster at the time, that this process God has me going through is all for my own good...to give me hope and a future.
You see God's process for each one of our lives is a source of hope for us. As believers, we must know that all of it...the ups and the downs...have a purpose. We will go through losses and devastations as we trek through this earthly life, but the final destination is going to be so worth it. We need God daily...even on our good days, but I'm human and like most...I lean on Him even more on my dark days. I need that comfort and safe place because I can't do those moments alone. The beauty of it though??? The beauty is that when I lean on Him through those rough times...in the middle of the worst days and moments...I grow and become even more intimate in my relationship with God. Did you realize that in the Bible the word "hope" often pop's up beside the word "suffering?" It's not because God wants us to live a life here on Earth suffering, but the realities is this is not heaven. This is a world of good, yes, but also of so much darkness. Romans 5:2-4 says, "we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope." When I work towards my earthly goals, it's done with an expectation and hope that certain things MAY happen; however, it's done with some questions as to whether or not they will really occur. But with God...my hope is different. I know without a doubt that there is a certainty about my future regardless of what happens here on Earth. There is something so beautiful and reassuring in having this confidence in Him and the promises He laid out for us so many years ago. My friends...He cannot break his promises...it's not in His nature. We will have people and health and jobs and life events that will let us down in this life, but He won't. Guys, we have to go through the process...even the ugly, dark times of life...to get to Heaven. That is the ultimate goal we work towards with hope in our hearts. A hope that is guaranteed.
While I know that there will be suffering here in this life, it doesn't mean that there isn’t any good present in it. The hope that God provides gives us stability as well because believers know He is in control. God is so much bigger than the hard days and my problems, which allows me to endure and stand up to each day. It allows me to see the beauty sitting there, intermingling, amongst the moments that have brought tears and stress. So, despite this year being probably one of my toughest to date, when I take a step back from it and look at it for a moment...trying my best to keep things in perspective...I see the beauty in it. The beauty does have some rough edges along it, I can't lie, because I was stretched thin to accomplish this year; however, there is beauty in imperfections. 2021 was hard, but it was also my biggest year of personal growth...EVER. I developed more belief in myself. I learned that I am way more capable than I give myself credit for. I somehow finished another year of graduate school when I had so many factors going against me that should have prevented me from accomplishing this. Pending an internship and a weeklong intensive lab in the spring, God willing I will graduate with my MS in Human Performance-Nutrition in May. I came so close to quitting and giving up on this goal more times than I would like to admit to this year because I was just so exhausted, but thankfully I pushed through. This year I showed myself more grace than I have ever allowed before. I accepted my humanity and the fact that my imperfectness as a human is okay. That if I wasn't as close to perfect as I could be that there would be no ramifications to me that would continue to harm my physical and mental well-being. This has been a journey for me because there was a time in my life where I didn't have this freedom to be human and feel secure and safe in that. I got through another year of parenthood as a single mom. I gained a teenager this year so not an easy feat. (if you know, you know lol) I saw so much growth in my special needs son who is autistic, and this gift is one I will never take for granted. Special needs parents go through so much that we don't talk about. (again...if you know, you know). I set 5 specific goals at the beginning of 2021 that were big goals (well to me at least), but goals I knew would show me even more that I'm figuring out this whole single mom thing. I accomplished every one of them. I've had several appointments this year and we learned that my cancer has not returned. I grew in some of my relationships with certain friends that I learned are more like family. These friends have pretty much taken it upon themselves to check in on me and somehow, they all do it when I need it most. They know who they are, and they are gems. I’m slowly getting to know someone who touched my heart this year and I'm grateful for that. The list goes on, but alas I also don't want to bore y'all too much; however, I couldn't start this post gloomy and not point out the beauty in this messy life as well.
As I bid adieu to you, I want to leave you with some final thoughts. Things don't always seem like what they may initially appear to be. When I say that 2020 won, it's not because this year defeated me. No...I beg to differ! 2021 was a winning year for me. I won. With that said, when we have God as our foundation and surrender to Him...do we ever really lose? I think not. I don't care how rough my years, my months, my days...heck, my minutes can ever get. Being a teammate on God's team, guarantees me a win. You know why? Because He has already won the battle for me...and it guarantees you a win too. Trust Him...you'll never regret it.