This is a hard post to write because I don't know where to start. My birthday is Saturday - and we all know how I much I LOVE birthdays. This is not sarcasm; I actually LOVE birthdays - especially mine. Okay, let's be honest, mostly mine. Everyone else's sneaks up on me and I drop the birthday ball. ...but, birthdays always put me in that reflective mindset...and this year (especially) is no different.
I broke down in church today during the Eucharist. All out - tears flowing, snot dripping - crying as I thought about this last year...and the complete juxtaposition that it has been.
A year ago, I was fresh off reaching my weight loss goal (50# down in 5 months!). Dan was 35# lighter; I was excited about my job again; I was helping other people get healthier; life was really good. I got two great birthday celebrations - one with Dan to my favorite Tucson restaurant (Cafe A'la C'Art) before he left for Louisville, one with my closest Tucson girl friends checking out downtown Tucson.
The first half of the year really was all about personal growth in my health coaching business. I realized some truths about what was holding me back from reaching goals, and I learned to confront the chatter that threatens to keep me from being my best self. On top of that, I was helping a lot of people make some positive changes in their lives. The icing on the cake was reaching a goal that I had set for myself to be actively helping about 25 people reach their goals.
Besides the growth in my business, I was also reaching new strides in my own health. When my cousin decided to run a 10K in May, and her sister decided to join her - and then they challenged me, I got on board. At first, I congratulated them for doing it because "I don't like running that much." When Amy challenged me to do it, I thought, "Well, I have been wanting some thing to work toward!"
Training for that 10K is probably one of the highlights of my year. It was just so much fun to send texts back and forth encouraging each other to "do the hard thing!" It was great to commiserate on those long runs that sucked - and celebrate after those runs that result in the infamous "runner's high." Did I mention the 10K was in Iowa - and so were my cousins? Distance didn't matter much.
Running the race with them was the best capstone. It was hard. It was good. It was long. AND I got to surprise my mom for Mother's Day (she didn't know I was coming back to run it)!
My cousin Amy's 8th grade PE class was training for this 10K - that's how the shenanigans started. In their religious ed class, they were reading a book called "Do Hard Things." Essentially, the book challenges people to do the things that seem hard or unpleasant - physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Reflecting on my past year, I realized that is my theme.
The first half was about taking the reigns and pushing myself...and the second half has been holding on for dear life. I mentioned in a couple of posts ago, but it is LITERALLY only by God's grace that I am able to stand and function on a pretty regular basis. If I were to put my feelings into a picture it'd be:
Begin scene - Jessica is riding in the saddle (which is not a place she's comfortable, btw), sauntering along, enjoying the scenery; she gains some confidence, and starts out at a trot, then picks up some more speed, and she's still in control! Look at her behind the reigns; go, Jessica, go! ...and then, something spooks the horse - and Jessica slips in the saddle! Oh no, she's barely hanging on - her legs are flailing everywhere; she has no idea what's happening or how to get up - or off without dying...and she's wondering where help will come from.
And, then help comes, and she's rescued - somehow - she has no idea how...but she seems to be in a safe place now. Though stationery, she still feels like the world is running out of control; like she could fall at any point; like danger is near.
Will Jessica ever get back in the saddle again?
I don't know. Time will tell, I guess.
The first half of the year, I chose the hard thing that I would conquer. I was in control. The second half, the hard thing chose me. ...and it didn't even choose me, it chose Dan. It chose what I love most - who I love most...and even though things are looking good, and Dan is feeling better than he has - I am still scared.
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus praised the widow who gave her two mites because she gave all that she had. Out of her poverty, she gave - and the rest of us give out of our abundance. Imagine the courage that it took for her to give "all that she had". She had to depend upon God to supply her needs because she just gave him her all. Imagine the trust to open her hand and let go of these two coins that meant life. Imagine the love that she must have for him, believing that she matters to him, that he will not let her fall.
That has been the question before me the last six months. Will I let go of my deathgrip (how appropo) on my life, on my marriage, on myself - and let God in? Will I trust him to bring new life into a hopeless situation? Will I let his will be done in my life? ...will I walk by faith and not by sight?
Baby steps. Sometimes, I run. Sometimes, there is so much light and hope in my life, that I just open up my arms and twirl around and can't wait for an eternity of Jesus' presence. ...and sometimes, I am weak. Sometimes, I am afraid that the world will fall around me. Sometimes, I am angry at things I can't even put into words. Sometimes, the chatter wins.
I realized this morning that all I want to do is go back. I want to go back to the first half of this year. I want to go back to that Jessica - strong, powerful, focused Jessica. ...and by showing me that, God gently nudged my heart and said, "Further on, further up, further in, Jessica. I want to take you to a new place. Will you be open to new life, Jessica?"
If I learned anything this year, it's that I can do hard things [through Christ who strengthens me, right Mom?]. I can do hard things - like let God bring new life, and let go of the old.