A few weeks ago, we turned out the lights, locked the door, signed the papers and handed over the keys to our sweet little home.
Then, I wrapped up my thirties. Tonight 2013 will come to it’s close.
Tis the season of endings.
I began this year with a word emblazoned on my heart. FEARLESS.
I chose this word, or it chose me, because I could feel the Lord nudging me to move things I had kept on the strategic life plan to my daily to-do list. Clutching onto the words of 1 Timothy 2:7 and a well drafted action plan, I began the journey.
Twelve months later from stepping out in faith, my work life, my home life and my health have helped me to define fearless much differently than I did in January.
I’ve learned the opposite of fear is not a roaring courage. Instead, I’ve discovered the opposite of fear – true fearlessness- is the presence of peace. The peace that passes understanding, that stretches beyond comprehension.
At work, God enlarged my territory. I was given the opportunity to grow my leadership – in perhaps the most uncomfortable, humbling way. I expanded my role, changed my title, and inherited a heap of messy budgets and a team battered, worn, and completely distrustful of me. I was determined to whip it all together and expected immediate excellence and leadership from those around me. I fell back into my perfectionist ways and expected not just excellence – but perfection of them. Quickly discouraged, I pridefully felt I was the new coach of the bad news bears. Why could they not be as “with it” as me? Worst of all, I feared they would see my frailties beyond the office? What if they realized I’m not super woman, and discover I’m completely…human.
At home, as you know, we decided to sell the McCottage. What a whirlwind and a roller coaster of anxieties that turned out to be. Six weeks from a decision to sell it to sitting at the title company. What just happened?! Where will we go? Before my fears could get the best of me I realized everything fell together so perfectly, I could only see God’s hand in this and be at peace despite our unknown destination. Even despite the other private chaos that was unseen to so many…
Beyond work and home has been a quiet struggle that a few know. At the time I was “taking over at the helm” at work, one of my greatest fears was realized. (This is quite personal and I’ve debated whether to share in such an open forum, but I’ve found the stories of other women in the same place have brought me comfort – to know we’re not alone in what seems like the loneliest journey, one we are supposed to keep private) You see, 2013 was the year The Angler and I were going to grow our family. I had no reason to believe this would be a challenge. This delayed start for us, has always been our choice.
Because of my “advanced age” we were given a brief window before the doctors wanted to intervene. In July, the barrage of tests began. There were some initial scares but thankfully, nothing major was uncovered. In September, our hopes were beginning to be realized …and then it went away.
In the last days of October the sign went into the yard to sell the house and I got a referral to “the specialist”.
On Nov 5, I met with the specialist for the new patient work-up. Three days later, we accepted the offer on our house and just a few days later more unexpected good news arrived! We were shocked. We did it! On our own. No help from any doctors. We’d have a sweet little souvenir to take with us from the McCottage. God’s timing seemed perfectly in line with my idea of the perfect story to share with my friends. My head went into painting the walls of our future home, wondering if the tiniest bedroom would be blue or pink.
My doctor confirmed the positive test four times with lab- cautioning me that my levels weren’t quite what they wanted to see. I was sure I was an exception. Just days before Thanksgiving and my entire house was emptied, the little dream was over.
All I wanted to do was to crawl into MY bed – in MY bedroom – in MY house. But the McCottage didn’t really exist anymore and the pressure to get OUT and let the buyers in was on. There was no time for rest or recovery. Maybe it’s for the best there was no time for my pity party.
In this storm of health and selling our home so quickly despite a slow market, we landed at my inlaws for a few weeks – until our next home is available/ found. We made it to their country home just minutes before the bad weather blew. What a life metaphor because this bad weather turned out to be a gift. We were iced in for 4 days and I rested. I took deep breaths and thought these days of endings were over. I was free to let our new dreams begin!
The next day, the doctor called with unexpected news. My labs showed I was still pregnant and that the ultrasound indicated it was ectopic. It seems my trait of “not letting go” transfers in my DNA. This barrage of stress continued.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to have surgery. I took two shots of Methotrexate - a chemo drug that afternoon to dissolve the misplaced attempt at life. It felt weird. And I felt so helpless through it all. But I didn’t feel scared. I did not fear.
I knew and still know God wants good for me.
I’ve had some out of body experiences lately, looking at this frenzy of my life in 2013 – especially the last few weeks. When I have shared my story with friends, they’ve cried. They exclaim, “I don’t know how you’re doing this!” At times, I’ve had the same thought, but then I realize I know exactly how I’m doing it. I’m able to get up each day and get dressed and arrive to work because I’m bathed in prayer. I’m girded in God’s love – the love that castest out all fear. My family, my dearest girlfriends and prayer warriors have lifted me up. I got vulnerable with my team at work, shunned my perfection, and told them what was going on in my life. Turns out, those Bad News Bears are some of the godliest people of faith I’ve ever met and they have gone to bat for me in prayer and encouragement. And in the midst of the darkest night, I awoke and found an email from a Facebook/ college acquaintance who said she had no idea why, but God had asked her to start praying for me and my future family last year and she has been fervently praying ever since. In between her lines, I could read God’s handwriting, “See? I’ve got this!”
I am embracing A.W. Tozer’s words,
“When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety”
That’s where I am today. Fearless.
I have no idea what the next few days, much less what 2014 and my 40s will hold, but I do know who holds that future and that future is to make me more like Him. I don’t know if we’ll ever be bigger than a family of two or if we will land in a house I love. BUT I feel God’s promises to my core, “I’m not letting you go. I’m telling you, Don’t Panic. I’m right here to help you” – Isaiah 41:3. These are the same words I typed on this screen back in January. They were true then…and they are true now.
Yes, I’m finishing 2013 battered and weary, yet I’m unafraid and at peace. And isn’t peace what the holiday season is all about?
If you have an anxious heart today, I pray you discover this peace that I have found. If I can pray for you, let me know.
This month we sang of peace on earth. Please know, it is not just a Christmas prayer – it’s a year round reality. It can be yours in your heart, just as it is mine. Jesus came to earth two thousand years ago for times like these. To give us hope. When the shepherds found him lying in that manger dressed in swaddling clothes, they knew the hope of the world had arrived. They heard the Angels sing of this Wonderful Counselor. The Almighty Father. The Prince of Peace.
Christmas may be over. Nativity scenes are being packed away. We shouldn’t leave him in that manger. Allow his peace to carry with you this next year. Allow yourself to be fearless in Him.
I’ll be taking a break from blogging for awhile. I plan to rest and use the next few weeks as an “alt-ctl-delete”. In that time, I hope to remodel this site and come back writing from a new office in a new home.
Au revoir 2013.
Until we meet again, I hope y’all have a Fearless New Year.
Peace be with you, sweet friends.