Closing a chapter on a brutally hard year.
Well, all I can say to 2018 is "Go away!"
It was a year of incredible highs, like Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and the angels who paid my way, a warm summer, and friendships that stood the test, visiting with my faraway friends and family, and Easter in my home church.
And places so mesmerising that I hated to leave.
Of the lows that were career lows? They went as low as low could get, and then oh look, a hidden trap door that I got tossed down. And considering that some of those career lows involved "friends"? Well, all I can say is keep your friends close, and your friendlies closer.
There's a hard lesson for you...never confuse friends, and friendlies.
Trust me, there are many for whom you and I are a means to an end. People will look you in the eye and promise the moon, but when you feel that painful nudge to pack your bags? Trust me, be the one to cut the ties and head for the stars by way of a different path.
Leaving and closing the door behind you is less painful than getting whacked by it as you get shoved out onto the porch.
Now, I'm not one for airing a load of dirty laundry...but sometimes a stinky sock will get the point across.
So let me say this: for those who stood beside me? Thank you. For those who stood behind me and held me up? Thank you. For those who stood in front of me and made me look them in the eyes and focus on the love and kindness there instead of the world falling down around me? Thank you.
For those who cut me loose? Your loss.
Far more yours than mine.
Yes, it hurt to find myself as someone for whom "cutting loose" was the chosen option. But in the end, I'm better for it. I was in that realm for the season I needed to be there, and now I'm not.
No, it was not kind, nor was it gracious, nor was it anything remotely close to "walking the walk", but now I know who I can trust, and who I wanted to trust.
But out of the dark clouds that descended on my work in July, so many-SO MANY-silver linings came...people who I thought paid no attention to me, not out of malice, but because there were just so many others who were closer. So much encouragement, so much kindness, and so much empathy. The quietly stated whispers of some, "I know exactly how you feel", as well as the righteous indignation of others, "how dare they?", opened the way for me to experience the support that I knew was there, and that I never knew I had.
To my family and close friends? You are my anchors in the storm, my solid fortress when the waves come crashing, and my companions for when the heavens open and we can make s'mores under the stars. Thank you for listening to me, over and over, as I worked through some many things. As my husband's brother-in-law so bluntly put it, and not exactly in these words, but basically he said "so, what are you going to do about it now?"
As my brother said, I "failed forward".
The bitter fail backward. The brave, and stubborn, fail forward.
Some good advice from those boys, I think I shall take it.
Look, here's the thing about trouble...darkness is not an entity unto itself, it is the absence of light.
Cold is not an entity unto itself, it is the absence of warmth.
Fear? Well, that is an absence of peace, and it comes in many forms.
But? Disappointment is a weighted, armed, and dangerous force that can be completely surrounded by good, but all that good is held back by the sword wielded by a broken heart.
Yes, I have faith. DO NOT THINK FOR ONE SECOND THAT I DON'T.
But do not, for one split second, think that I wasn't broken-hearted and disappointed that July evening when I was let go from my agency.
Was this the hardest thing that happened to me this year? Professionally, yes.
Personally? No. But this is not the place where I discuss all that happens to me or my family, and it never will be.
Will I keep writing? Yes.
Do I know who my friends are? Yes.
Do I know who my friendlies are? Yes.
Listen, every human carries a knife. Some people use theirs to cut you free, and some use them to try and shape you into what and who they want you to be.
God never uses a knife to shape His children, He uses the love that knows no end, the warmth of His hands, and the gifts He gave you to shape you into a person for whom the world has been waiting.
There will be brutally hard seasons that He leads you through. There will be loving and difficult people He uses to speak truth into you. Those difficult people, does He give them hurtful words to use against you? No, but sometimes He harnesses the pain of the hurt they caused you to lead you away from a place or a group that has out-used its purpose.
He made us stronger than we think we are, and nothing that has happened to me or anyone else this year came as a surprise to God.
Am I wary of what is coming in 2019? Totally!
Am I ready? Totally not.
Is it coming anyway? Yup.
So, I'll do the work and see what happens.
And no matter what happens, I am not alone.
I never was.
I never will be.
And yes, I am stronger now than I was last December. God never disappeared in any of what happened, nor did I lose sight of Him.
I am not disappointed in Him whatsoever.
I am not wishing to go backward.
I am most certainly trusting that He has the best path laid out for me, one that is full of things I could never imagine.
I hope and pray that 2019 is a blessing to us all.