I’m currently sat on a train heading off for some time away on my own. Believe it or not, for the first time in 5 years. 5 years of small people in my face for pretty much 24/7. Yes there have been days off, time away, even a night away in there somewhere. But this is the first time I’m actually off for three whole days. I’m excited, scared, grateful, worried and full of a desire to get into bed and sleep for a long long time.
As the train pulls out of the station I have the lovely Andrew Peterson in my ears (his Burning Light Of Dawn album is on repeat at the moment. Such bleakness coupled with such hope is balm to my soul). I’m musing on the year just gone. 2017 wasn’t a barrel full of laughs for many reasons and as I look ahead to 2018 I kind of want to sum it up, leave it behind and take a few things on with me.
2017 was a year of living in a long black tunnel. Husbandface was very ill for all of it. We didn’t know when or if he would get better. It was a year of coming to terms with this new known world of walking on in the dark. Nothing particularly dramatic happened, we got used to the familiar world of the immediate before our eyes and we trudged on.
For all that though it was a year of great light and hope in the dark. There were amazing things to be thankful for.
It was a year of friendship.
It was a year of knowing friends holding us. Most Saturdays people would come and visit, read stories to the boys, give me some space and people to talk to. Amazing friends bought us food once a month, listened to our dark and prayed hard. Lovely friends kept on crying out to God when it was too hard for us to. New people came alongside us and cared. Old old friends took our boys away for times so we could breathe. Family came and wept with us, whispered prayers in our ears and kept on holding on. Friends bought us amazing food for our freezer so we could have weeks of not having to think about meal planning. We have known so much love in our community in the dark this year. We are so grateful.
It was a year of adventure.
We had amazing times away this year, thanks to our incredible safety net family. We discovered camper vans and although we wished too much time away within YouTube videos of van conversions we also drove off for a month to get out of the tunnel for a bit. Space, air, outdoors and driving around with our safe place helped sustain us.
It was a year of self care.
I learnt slowly what I needed to sustain me in the dark. Time with the Maker of the world, time reading, time running out on the hills and eating well. Starting counselling helped put to words the struggle I have to feel worthy, of value. Noticing that struggle has helped in the journey to be secure and attached to the reality that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, a work of God, a poem sung from the start.
It was a year of weekly manna from church.
Each week, almost without fail, I would have 45 minutes of sitting without small ones listening to glimpses of reality. My soul was refreshed by the old old story expressed in different words and songs. We got to know new people, I spoke of reality from the front and remembered the love of my Heavenly parent all over again.
I remember reading Soul Bare at the beginning of last year. A book full of stories of dark times, redemption and hope. A phrase stood out from one of them. It told of a desire to know more of God whatever the circumstances around. I grabbed tight to that vision and still hold it for this coming year ahead.
Whatever life throws at us. I want to be found still in love with the one who first loved me. I want to know more of the divine in this world. I want to hold on until the morning. I want to know more and more of the anchor that holds me here. I want to be rooted in that love and live well in our lovely community from that love.
Here’s to the road ahead, I think it’s kind of appropriate that the journey starts with rest, a green pasture to lie in and remember the One who looks after me and my family. I rest knowing God is in charge. I lie down and sleep because he sustains me. I take my hand off the tiller and go below deck, confident that I have a greater pilot steering me through the night. (I mix my metaphors with confidence as ever ;))