I must confess, I was not looking forward to 2013. There is a part of me that is slightly superstitious, so the thought of enduring a year with "13" in it was not something I was desiring to do. But, since I have no control over the calendar, through it I went.
For the most part, it's been a year like any other year, and yet in some respects, it's been a year unlike any other year.
It's been a difficult one, to be sure.
And I, for one, am looking forward to the new year, a fresh start, a blank slate, and the promise of something better.
In the past year, I've managed to gain 30 pounds. I've managed to go up at least 2 sizes in jeans and 1 size in shirts.
In the past year, I've lost my grandfather to kidney failure, and my sister-in-law (and essentially my two nephews) to a divorce.
In so many ways, I feel like 2013 was a year of loss. Loss of my family as I once knew it. Loss of my ability to move and function in a healthy manner. Loss of my confidence. Loss of the woman I once knew.
And yet in some other ways 2013 was a year of gains.
I have gained a circle of friends who I am pleased to call my church family. These people have been with me through thick and thin. In the midst of my grandfather passing away and my brother's divorce, they have supported me in ways that I could not imagine nor express. I am so thankful that God has placed these people in my life to hold me up in prayer and be His hands and feet here on earth.
I have gained a small group outside of Joy in the Evening that challenges me to grow more, strengthens me, encourages me, and makes me laugh like no one else.
I have gained deeper relationships with my close friends.
Most importantly--I have gained a deeper understanding of who God is and what faith is all about. There are things that I would have never understood, never appreciated, never knew personally, had God stopped the difficulties that came my way.
***When I am going through my darkest season of doubt, God is right there beside me.
***When I need it the most, God will provide people to speak into my life and to sit with me
***When I am mad at God, He remains
***When hard things come my way, the one thing that I can always count on is God. He is constant in a world that is always changing
***Though I try to push God away, He is faithful to show me the depth of His love for me
***That it's worth loving someone--every time. Yes, you will in likelihood lose them at some point, but it's worth loving them fully.
***God's blessings sometimes come through raindrops and His healing does come through tears. And yes, sometimes a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know He's near.
***Though we cannot always trace God's hand, we can (and must) trust His heart
While many of these things were things that I knew in my head and trusted to be true, this year was the first time that I've experienced these truths firsthand.
I'm not quite at the point where I'd be willing to say with 100% certainty that these gains are worth all of the loss that I've experienced this past year. But I'm trusting that the time will come when I'll be able to declare it boldly.
For now, it's enough that I can say that these trials have reaped some blessings for me and my relationship with God.
Truly, God gives us His mercies in the disguise of the trials of this life.
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