23 December 2009

What a difference a YEAR makes...

Not surprisingly, as the year draws to a close, I am both reflective (on the year about to past) and anticipatory (about the year to come). I think we all embrace the start of a New Year with great joy and hope and anticipation for things to come. We are eager to shake off the dust, heartaches, sorrows of the year behind and embark on a new journey. Full of vim and vigor, we make resolutions and promises, set goals (some realistic, most “pie in the sky”), and mostly look forward to a brand new start. As if every January 1st has some magical power, as if the day itself is a “restart” button for our lives…and maybe it is…or maybe it can be. But, historians and philosophers tell us, in deep foreboding tones, that if we don’t examine the past, we are doomed to repeat it. So, just for a moment, I want to reflect on the year that is about to be … history.

2009 will go down in history as, undoubtedly, one of the most remarkable, memorable, unforgettable years ever to-date in my young (yes, 45 is still “young” in my book) life. In January, the United States inaugurated the first African-American President in the over 200 year history of our country…and whether you supported his campaign (like I did) or not (as many of my friends didn’t), it still was a moment in history that will never be forgotten – whether you stood on the sidelines in awe…or disgust. I was blessed to watch the inauguration from the comfort of my grandmother’s home in Florida. One generation removed from ancestors who experienced slavery in this country, it was an emotional moment for her to watch Barack Obama lift his hand and repeat the oath of office – and as her grandchild, it was emotional for me as well. “Never in my lifetime” seemed to be the recurring theme of the day – and that was true, no matter WHO you were. And while I didn’t necessarily envy my friends who were actually in Washington DC, standing out in bitter cold temperatures for the day, who enjoyed the inauguration balls and saw the First Family “live and in person”, I am glad they had that experience and will have that memory for the rest of their lives.

For me, the rest of the year seems to be a blur of losses. Losses of unbelievable magnitude and impact. Not only the loss of loved ones, family and friends to death (and there were a LOT of funerals that I attended in 2009), which were significant and left holes in my soul and spirit that are still waiting to heal and be filled … I also experienced the heart wrenching losses of friendships that no longer exist in their pure form due to misunderstandings and miscommunications – chasms that still need to be crossed and mended and healed – and some that, out of necessity and sanity, will be or have been abandoned. There have been sleepless nights, tearful conversations, angry words spoken, wounds inflicted and received. There are relationships that have been destroyed and, just like Humpty Dumpty, can never be repaired without the cracks showing. And with a change in my job and my work schedule, there have been relationships that have fallen victim to the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” with amazing speed and rapidity.

But before you think this has me despondent or suicidal, let me quickly state that this has also been a year of amazing blessings and experiences where God has showed up and showed out JUST FOR ME. From the experience at my Uncle Johnny’s funeral where someone told me how a card I mailed her seven years prior encouraged her to the card(s) that showed up unexpectedly in the mail just when I was at my wit’s end and feeling unloved, unwanted, unappreciated. (Can I just say, "you reap what you sow, people" - ok, I said it...moving on) From the blessing of the new job position that moved me out of a work environment that was sending me home crying on a regular basis to a work situation where I continually say, “Thank you Jesus” and “Praise the Lord”. And for every friendship that has faltered or failed, another friendship has been planted, another bloom has sprouted and the resultant flowers have been more colorful and hardier and more enduring.

Who knows what 2010 will hold. I am sure there will be more deaths and sorrows – it is the time in which we live – our elders are getting older and in mercy, will be put to sleep in the Lord. Death, unfortunately, is a fact of life. Disease is running rampant and I will lose people I love and care for to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, car accidents, whatever … that is the price of sin as foretold in the Bible. There will be disappointments: job losses, friendships gone sour, marriages dissolving, financial stresses and strains. There will be tears of sorrow. There will be hurt feelings and deep emotional traumas. There will be arguments over stupid things and conversations that will just go south for no reason at all. There will be days when I will think I just cannot put one foot in front of the other one mo’ time again. There will be "those" days in 2010 – to think otherwise is foolish.

But there will also be days of great joy and gladness. Friends will get married and have babies. There will be birthdays to celebrate and graduations to attend. There will be powerful sermons preached by the men and women of God that will edify, encourage and uplift my spirits. There will be songs sung that will speak directly to the heart of the matter (whatever the matter may be). There will be enriching conversations with friends, probably over fabulous dinners. There will be breathtaking moments that I will capture with my camera (and moments that I will miss as I wish my shutter finger was quicker). There will be those quiet moments when God will speak directly to me and I hope I will be quiet and still enough to actually HEAR Him when He does. There will be prayers prayed and prayeres answered. There will be laughter and smiles and blessings.

Whatever 2010 brings, I look forward to the ride because I know God will sustain me as I move through it. By now, you know my favorite Bible promise is found in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” In other words, NO MATTER WHAT COMES, God got it under His control…it does not happen without His permission or without His knowing..., so ultimately, that means that whatever happens in 2010, it is for my good, for my edification, and ultimately, for my salvation. Knowing that, I know I will survive whatever is ahead. I know YOU will too.

Be blessed.

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