Yesterday, I went on my last run of 2018. It happened to also be my first run since my surgery as I was only recently cleared to resume running. My doctors have encouraged me to start working back up to my previous exercise routine to boost my appetite and start rebuilding the muscle mass that I lost over the past few months. Suffice it to say, the run wasn’t pretty. I felt stronger than I expected, but I also threw up over the guardrail as cars slowly drove by. Between the vomit, the sore, aching muscles, and the bitter cold winter air burning deep in my lungs... I finished my run feeling more weak and shaky than triumphant.
Metaphorically, it was a really great summary of 2018. In some ways, this year has brought challenges that have put a big fat magnifying glass over all my weaknesses and sin issues. Still, I have also discovered a courage and strength in me that I didn’t know was there. I have had conversations that made me want to throw up over a guard rail - and some of these high-stakes conversations actually DID cause me to throw up. Nevertheless, I spoke truths that would have been easier to continue hiding away in silence. I opened up places in myself that I have kept shut away since I was just a girl. I’ve allowed a small handful of people the horrible and sacred privilege of seeing into the deepest, darkest parts of my past and my soul for the very first time ever. It’s been excruciating honestly. It has been the hardest, most painful work of my life. Just like my run, I finished 2018 feeling more weak and shaky than triumphant.
In 2018 I narrowly escaped cancer, after having a mass inside of my body for over ten years without knowing it. I didn’t really “beat” cancer. I escaped it. I didn’t battle, I didn’t fight, I didn’t win… I was spared. It was simply discovered and removed. I wish that this were true of all cancer, for all people. And I wish that this were true of the deeply rooted sins in my heart that have been sitting in there - toxic and malignant - for much longer than that tumor. I wish that the selfishness, the fear, the woundedness, the pride, the desires - these cancers to my soul - would be just as easily discovered and removed. I wish they could be escaped.
Yet, that is not how it goes. At least not for me. These things must be fought and battled, these struggles must be overcome with work and study, with confession and forgiveness. I am doing that hard work and I am starting to run again, literally and figuratively.
I have always loved making New Year’s Resolutions. I love a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate. I have “all things new” tattooed on my wrist for goodness sake. I crave newness, the chance to be washed clean, redeemed, and begun anew. Still, I have never once kept my resolution through the entire year. Ever. I fail every single time. Yet, I keep trying. Because even if I don’t finish the run - or the year- the way I set out, I accomplish more, learn more and grow in ways that I wouldn’t if I weren’t willing to dare to try again each and every year.
So, this run, this year, is over. I finished. I was weak and shaky, but that’s okay because I made it. I have seen and experienced enough hardship in life to know that we will sometimes cross the finish line empowered and triumphant but perhaps just as often, we will just barely limp across the finish line because of grit and God’s grace alone. The gift that 2018 gave me, though, was the awareness that sometimes I can only cross the finish line at all because there is a small handful of people not simply cheering me on from the sidelines, but ready to throw an arm around my broken heart and atrophied body to prop me up as I stumble across that line. 2018 taught me that even if it takes a team of doctors, a great therapist and a few good friends to drag us over that line, it still counts as finishing the race. It’s a fragile, vulnerable, precarious victory… but it counts as a finish all the same.
Happy New Year my beloved readers - may 2019 bring a family of people who will prop you up, drag you along, and carry you whenever it is needed.