A New Year’s Toast

a new door

I would be lying if I were to say that 2015 has not been, by far, the most painful and challenging year for me. I would be lying if I said I do not have high hopes that this next year would somehow go a little easier on me. I would also be lying if I said that it has not been one of the most strengthening and growing years of my life.

I do not like to lie, so I will say this:

 

Cheers to the challenges that make us grow;

Pains that lead to healing;

Sorrow which turns to joy;

Struggle which inspires change;

Doubt which deepens faith;

Loss which makes room for love;

Weaknesses that make us stronger;

Brokenness which cultivates hope;

Death which awakens new life;

To everything and everyone who helps me to know what it means to live wholeheartedly and dare greatly, I salute you.

To another year of learning and growing;

To closed doors and new doors;

To another year of experiencing grace and seeing God-sightings

in the strangest of places;

To wonder;

To the unexpected;

To hope and to love.

 

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When the Dust Settles

I am not entirely sure where this expression comes from specifically, but I find myself saying it more and more often in recent days:

“Wait for the dust to settle.”

It seems that things are less dramatic and catastrophic when we allow time for the dust to settle from a tragic life storm. A life storm could be the loss of a job, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, or perhaps not even a loss, but a sudden unexpected turn of events. To many, life storms can be devastating and difficult to recover from.

I have recently come out of a major life storm. One I had hoped would never end the way it did. While there is much I am still learning and healing that is undergoing, I have come to appreciate the process of letting the dust settle and walk through the remains and assess the damage of what was. Hope has been my anchor through this entire process. Being still and waiting has been difficult for me as someone who just wants to fix things and move forward. The dust is still settling and my hope remains. New adventures and love awaits.

dust storm

When the dust is still flying, it is easy to to make rash decisions. When the dust is still flying, things are confusing and dark. When the dust is flying, abstract thoughts are swarming and loneliness overwhelms. When the dust is flying it is difficult to find anything solid to grab onto. When the dust is flying, our version of reality is distorted. When the dust is still flying, it is difficult to see the light of a hopeful outcome. When the dust is flying, fear abounds and there is no telling which way is up or down. It is when the dust is flying is where blaming, shaming, and emotions are at their peak.

When the dust settles, so does our reality and we can process decisions with better clarity. When the dust settles, we begin to see we are not alone. When the dust settles, we can begin to assess the damage and see what needs to be cleaned up or changed. When the dust settles, we can see formations of both painful and fond memories which lie under the thick layer of dust. When the dust has settled, we can begin to sweep away the dirt, and learn as much as we can from the wreckage. Sometimes we uncover layers and see red flags and warning signs which have contributed to the force of the storm. Life storms often do not just happen over night.

tornado aftermath

As I have been working through the painful wreckage of my own life storm, I find myself being reminded that the dust has not always been flying. There was a time when hopes and dreams were in full force and nothing could stand in the way. Loving memories lie alongside those that have caused great pain and grief.

I have some friends who are walking through their own life storm. It pains me to watch the devastation, heartbreak, and wreckage. However, I cannot help but have hope that this storm can be used to uncover and bring to light hidden areas that have been neglected for years. I am optimistic that, for many, storms can be used to bring better clarity and healing. My council for my friends is to not make any sudden and permanent decisions while the dust is still in the air. I am confident that the combination of grace, love, acceptance, and forgiveness can restore any broken relationship. I am also painfully aware that it takes work and some are unwilling or incapable of such work. Not every outcome has to be the same.

Sometimes it is when the dust settles that we discover more about ourselves, our purpose and rediscover our passions. Sometimes, after assessing the damage and learning as much as we can, we realize what is salvageable and what is not. Sometimes walking away from the wreckage offers more healing than trying to rebuild.

Friends, as devastating as your current situation is, the dust will settle. Please wait before making any permanent decisions and causing further damage. The sun will eventually shine on you and the rain will come and remove some of the remaining dirt and heal the wounds. Healing is on its way. Hope will be your anchor. Love will find you. These things are easier to see and accept, not with a clinched fist, but an open hand, heart and mind. Grace to you as you walk through your storm. You have a friend and you are not alone. Even when the dust is still flying, if you reach out, you may discover a hand to guide and support you through the healing.

 

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;

he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

(Ps. 34:18)