The Aftermath, the Now, and my One Word for 2018
It’s 2018 (in case you missed the memo) and all across the nation people are making resolutions or their trendier counterpart, picking One Word for the year. (One Word to rule them all, One Word to find them, One Word to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them…oh, wait, excuse my geek out. At least I didn’t say “There can be only one.”)
I’m not knocking the One Word movement. I like it better than resolutions and I’ve picked words for several years now even if I promptly forgot what they were. I’ve even blogged about some of them here, here, and here. My 2017 word was “Light” which was a perfect word for the year even if I didn’t always live up to it.
But by the end of 2017 I didn’t feel like I had any words left in me. Survive? Manage? Cope? All I can do some days is put one foot in front of the other, paste a smile on my face and hope that the wilderness will be kind to me that day. I’m living in the aftermath of a lot of things. The aftermath of friendships that were, that aren’t any more. The aftermath of church trauma, which apparently takes a lot longer to recover from than one would think. (Bless the people in my life who are gentle with me, and who let me be a little testy sometimes when a topic triggers a host of unwanted feelings. The good news is that I can go to church now without feeling that panic rising within me…the bad news is that I think it’s mostly due to a medication change. Some days we take what we can get.) Then there’s the aftermath of all the crazy, ridiculous things that were said and done during 2017. We need our light-bearers more than ever, but sometimes we have to step back and tend to our own flickering flame.
There have been days when I have felt like I just cannot do it anymore. I know that I’ve blogged about depression and anxiety in the past. I’m always a little tentative in writing new posts about it because in my mind I hear the voices that say “Shouldn’t you be over that by now?” and “Do you think you’re being just a bit dramatic? Feelings aren’t real.” And “Don’t you know the joy of the Lord is your strength?” (Do you know that I love how often the Psalms circle between “everything is terrible I’m probably just going to die right here” and “still I will rejoice” because it reminds me that the two can co-exist. Depression and joy. Anxiety and peace. Life is complex, feelings are too; the Psalms remind me of that.)
And then this morning I read another of Beth Woolsey’s wonderful posts. Beth does vulnerability with honesty, a little cussing, and a whole lot of beautiful. She reminded me that in the midst of all the positive New Year’s vibes, I’m not the only one just trying to survive. I’m not the only one telling my husband repeatedly that I’m sorry he got the broken wife, worrying that I’m dragging him down with me. We’ve all got a struggle, not necessarily bigger or smaller, just different. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that sometimes a word of encouragement, a “me too,” a reminder that no, everyone else does NOT have it all together is the very thing I need. Consider this post written to remind you of those things.
Because my 2018 word is “Fight.” Which, now that I think of it, rhymes with last year’s “Light.” Maybe it’s the flip side? Maybe we can’t have one without the other?
Here is what is true. The past few months have been a slipping into darkness, the aftermath of the past few years topped off with a dollop of brain chemistry out of whack, and sometimes I want to let go and sometimes I want to claw my way back up out of it. It’s that clawing my way back up that I want to hold on to, the “Fight” that keeps me going so that I can be Light and be Brave and be Loving and be all of the other words that are in my future.
I want to fight to remember that I am enough, and not too much, and not too loud or too quiet, or too depressed, or too logical, or too anything other than just myself.
I want to fight to get my faith back. Because God is really abstract and possibly a little scary to me right now and I just want to be the woman fighting though the crowd to touch the hem of his garment, certain that there’s something there worth pressing forward to touch.
I want to fight to not be cynical, to see the best in people. The world is a raging fire right now and I want to learn how to fight back against that with light and hope.
Above all, fight for love.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Madeleine L'Engle; I’ve been reading a lot from her lately. Maybe it’s because she doesn't shy away from pain. She looks squarely at the human condition and names the brokenness without fear. She understands what it means to fight even when we think we’ve no fight left in us. Her stories require both beauty and evil to exist side-by-side, because without the one we cannot see the other. I’ve been pondering this quote of hers for months.
"If I take all my anger, if I take all my bitterness over the unfairness of this mortal life, and throw it all to God, he can take it all and transform it into love before he gives it back to me."
-Madeleine L'Engle, Dragons in the Waters
I think I’m starting to get it now. Perhaps love is the first thing, the most essential thing, for which we fight.