It’s hard for someone who trusts the Lord to confess that she’s had the absolute worst year of her life! In my first two years of marriage long ago my husband was unemployed for six months and our marriage almost died. I had a year where I lost a baby I was carrying…a baby I wanted and needed. I had a year where one of my children was hurt in such an invasive and heart-wrenching way. I’ve had a year where I sat with a friend as her CHILD experienced cancer. I’ve had a year where I sat with a friend as her 2-yr-old daughter was BURIED.
At 40 I moved 1500 miles from home and friends and just a little later my marriage dissolved and ended in divorce. In the next year I faced eviction and possible homelessness with three pre-teens. There was the year my oldest son and I had surgery just two days apart…at Christmastime. The next year I had Bell’s Palsy at Easter. I had a year where a new pastor was verbally and psychologically abusive…not just with me but so many others. I had several years of trying to complete something I’d started decades before…getting a college degree. I had a year where I played with fire and burned myself by having an affair…and had it not been for the most forgiving husband in the world, that year could have been the worst. I had a year with cancer…actually 2 years for that victorious battle. The next year my father died…and less than a year later my mother died. The following year a young man that we loved dearly died in his early 20’s…and the following year my brother died. I’ve had a lot of “bad” experiences during a lot of years. Sometimes I feel like I could star on one of those daytime talk shows.
So…what did it take to make 2017 the absolute WORST year of life? It started just a little before the new year began… when exciting election results put the candidate I believed God wanted me to vote for into the highest office of the U.S. At last I could rest in my heart a little…we were once again in “good hands”…hands that would help “Make America Great Again”. My heart rejoiced (and was stunned) the night Trump won the election. But my joy was short-lived. Not because Trump did anything wrong, but just his election alone brought out the utter WORST in people I loved…and in people I never knew. Hateful women marched in the streets in total vulgarity and argued with me that THEY represented me! There was so much vitriol…so much anger…so much trash-talking. The media became a laughingstock because they couldn’t even see their own bias. They were angry too…they thought they had offered enough propaganda to bring about a much different result. It was supposed to be a “given”! And while America seemed to be falling apart and splitting at the seams, the man already in office until inauguration did NOTHING to ease the issues. He seemed to thrive in the hatred…and still his followers and worshippers refused to see his evil intent. I’d love to say that through the year, everything changed and eased…but it did not. Media members continued to create stories instead of reporting them fairly…to the point that I gave up watching news. I’ve been a news addict since my high school days…but not anymore.
The vitriol and hate were only forgotten when terrorists got to work…and they worked this year. It seemed like every other day there was a terrorist attack from somewhere in the world. And the biased media often tried to credit the world’s dissatisfaction with Trump’s presidency as causing terrorist attacks…a ridiculous assertion since terrorists have been attacking THROUGH ALL OF HISTORY.
It should be no surprise that all the hate and anger began to eat at me. No matter how much I’ve worked to avoid stress since fighting cancer and surviving, this year was just too stressful. I tried praying…I stayed in the Scriptures for encouragement and information on how to survive times like these. But more and more it felt like something was about to burst inside of me. And sure enough, in June, my heart went “wonky”. I could feel my heartbeat marching to a different drummer…and after 8 days in the hospital I was diagnosed with A-fib. I’m blessed because my heart does not do the sped-up palpitations that others deal with…it just has a bizarre rhythm. I’m not sure it can even be classified as a rhythm. It’s just doing its own thing…and I’m essentially okay with that (grin). I like being quirky and odd and not like other folks. But I learned recently when Dan and I were talking about this past year that for Dan this was the worst time of the year.
Less than 2 months after I was diagnosed with A-fib and getting used to weekly blood draws and new medications, Dan ended up in the hospital to have a heart valve replacement! We’d heard in March that he would need it, but we were told it would probably be 3 years before he’d go through this. And suddenly it was necessary to get it done quickly. For me, those 8 days sitting alone in a strange hospital with an ailing husband were incredibly difficult. I never would have survived that without God’s Word…and without the ability to receive encouragement and prayers from others through Facebook. If you are one of those who “prayed us through” that event, THANK YOU.
Seems like that should have been enough for one year, but in the middle of October, we got a startling phone call that Dan’s youngest brother, Tom, was on his way to a hospital after experiencing a heart attack. Less than 24 hours later, Tom was gone. Tom…the little brother who’d broken his family’s heart. Tom…the brother who had spent a lot of his life in jail (an embarrassment to the family). Tom…who had re-connected with his big brother and whom we’d enjoyed visiting just a few years ago. This would become one of the most difficult trials of the year. I learned how hateful family members can be as we attempted to honorably lay Tom to rest. He’d had nothing to do with his parents in over 40 years…and they wanted nothing to do with his burial. Then law required the other six siblings had to give permission for Dan to take care of the burial, and one sister became horribly ugly…a woman who claims to be a Christian. She said hateful things about Tom. And probably the most hateful thing she said was about my wonderful husband. It was shocking. It was undeserved. It was based on misinformation and total lack of information. I didn’t know someone could be so ugly. I saw the worst in so many people during October. I was stunned because I was raised that you NEVER speak ill about the dead. But apparently the rules I was raised with no longer exist. Amidst all this horrible behavior, though, God came shining through! As we sought help for burial expenses, it looked like we were going to fall incredibly short of the funds needed. And then…out of the blue…God moved the heart of one of Tom’s distant relatives to help ensure his honorable burial. I will ever be grateful to her for allowing God to work through her.
In November there was another small medical procedure I had to go through…and more visits with a liver doctor. I discovered that 50% of my liver no longer functions…explaining the overpowering lack of energy I deal with every day. While I’m grateful for the information…and for the care of all the doctors and nurses…I’m physically worn out with all the medical “stuff”. And I’m trying not to count my eggs before they hatch, but I’m starting 2018 with a fewer scheduled doctors’ appointments…yay for 2018!
This year I’m GLAD a year has ended. God has revealed to me that just because I have access to information from around the world does not mean He intends for my heart to be so broken all the time. I learned there’s a word for people like me...I’m an “empath”. In my quest to make sure I never lose the ability to “feel compassion” – something I’ve seen happen to a lot of “grownups” during my lifetime – I’ve apparently actually given a turbo-boost to “feeling”. I can get sick to my stomach when I hear bad news. Images of war HURT me. I keep thinking, “There’s a mother in the middle of all that who just wants a safe place to raise her children.” She doesn’t want to be an immigrant. She doesn’t want to leave what’s hers…what’s theirs. But in desperation for the safety of her family she runs.
Most disgusting of all this year? Watching the number of “men” who have fallen from grace over their own sexual misconduct! Something happened this year…women somehow suddenly felt strong enough to share stories they’d kept secret for years and years and years. It was like watching dominoes fall. It started slow…and then just took off. I was torn because I know how women act and I do not believe every one of these men could have possibly been as horrible as they appear. And while the men are falling left and right, women are using the pain and ugliness of misbehaving men as a catalyst to move up the ladder…to exert their own power. The world is turning upside-down. And all the talk of men’s inability to control themselves has made me “fear” for my granddaughters. What will these precious girls face in their lifetimes? For that matter…what kind of horrible events lie ahead for my grandsons. Obama turned this country into a morally depraved country. I pray that as Trump continues to undo Obama’s practices, that somehow God can bring a sense of decency and compassion and forgiveness back to our land. I just need to make sure that I’m acting decent and compassionate and forgiving in my life. It’s going to take all of us doing our part to make America great again during 2018.
While all of this written out makes me realize it really was a horrible year and not just my imagination, there is good news at the end of 2017…actually all through 2017. GOD IS ON HIS THRONE STILL. All of this activity is a sign that satan knows his end is drawing near. He’s turning up the fire. But he WILL be defeated. Through everything I go into 2018 knowing “It is well with my soul.” How anyone navigates life without God is a puzzle to me. There is no hope in this world. Yes, Trump may help make America great again…but evil will still exist. The enemy will continue to lie and misinform and destroy. We have more than enough evidence of his reality. But guess what? His reality is NOTHING compared to the reality of God Who is seen all around us. Satan’s power is nothing because God’s is greater. The love and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross still has the power to save. And I step confidently into 2018 living in TRUTH able to discern the disturbing and heartbreaking work of the enemy. If you don’t know the One, True Living God, let 2018 be the year Jesus becomes your Savior and reveals to you the work of love of His Father, God.