Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year, A New Hope

The first day of a new year usually leads one to reflect on the past year and to look forward to the coming year.  I am no different.  What leads me to want to share this to anyone is beyond me but sometimes the desire to write is overpowering.  I find myself on this first day of 2014 in some places that I am year after year and some places I have never been before.  Maybe you are in one of these places with me or maybe you have already left the place where I am.  I don’t know.  I do know that God uses each one of our lives and circumstances to not just change ourselves but to reach others as well.  There is not one thing that I can either look back on or look forward to that happens without God’s permission.  There is not one thing that I can claim as my success but instead it is due to Him.  I am nothing but a vessel that has been put on this earth to bring glory to the most high God.

The past year for me is unlike any I have ever experienced.  My year began like everyone else’s in January with a return to work.  Unlike others, I had been on a medical leave of absence for the last part of the semester.  Now is not the time for me to share details on that but needless to say returning to a place of work where things you had hoped and desired to remain private had instead been disclosed is not an easy thing to face.  As a deeply reflective and analytical person I couldn’t help but wonder who knew what and who had said what and wonder how it would affect my standing as a first year teacher in a school where I was known as both former student and friend as well as a new colleague.  I was nervous about being able to once again handle the same stress that had so significantly contributed to my medical issues in the previous semester.  It was an incredibly difficult semester for me that I fought through every day to not only survive but to give my students the education they deserved from me.  Maybe it is just me or maybe it is many of us, but I only have so much mental and emotional energy that I can expend every day.  All of my fight was going to my job.  I had no energy to fight any other battles.  So while my heart and mind clung to doing my job and doing it well, the attention to what had been my focus for the previous few years slipped away.

Those of you that know my past know that I have been a morbidly obese person for the majority of my life.  Previously, I had lost 120 pounds and was only 50 pounds away from my goal weight and possible skin removal surgery.  However, life brings twists and turns we can never see coming and things change.  In November of 2012 I weighed my lowest of 218 pounds and yet I was not happy.  As my life began to change and my energy began to be shifted to other areas of life I lost the desire, the energy, the fight, and sometimes even the desire to continue my fight to be healthy.  Slowly but surely I began to exhibit some new tendencies that were not present before.  I became addicted to sugar.  Not just eating a bag of M & Ms but instead in a single day eating a Sonic blast, a piece of cake, a pint of ice cream, etc.  And that is on top of the “normal” food I was eating.  It also became a “hidden” habit.  No one saw me eat this food as I ate in my car or hidden in my room at night.  I had become lost in an addiction that I never saw coming.  

You may say how did you not see that coming, had you ever looked at yourself?  When I weighed 218 pounds I thought I would never be fat again.  I felt sure that this particular demon had been pretty well beaten.   I was incorrect.  So now I sit in January of 2014 weighing more than I did when I first started this journey several years ago.  I don’t know the exact number but I know it is one of my heaviest numbers.  I have gained over 100 pounds in a year.  The same 100 pounds it took me more than a year to lose.  But guess what?  I find myself content.

No, I am not content with my weight.  I am not content that I will once again have to fight this monster on my back.  But God has done something in my heart that is completely new and wonderful and ever-changing.  I have been in counseling off and on for years now but in July at the urging of my best friend I began seeing a new counselor.  This woman has become an unbelievable blessing and through her counseling, teaching, and encouraging I have begun to unwind the knot that was my soul.  Everything was tied together and one thing (my weight) pulled everything else out of whack (relationships, faith, job, health, etc.).  It wasn’t always my weight that threw everything out of control but it was always something and so if I found myself in turmoil in one area, it pulled everything else with it.  I am not saying that I am “fixed.”  I will always have to practice “constant vigilance (Alistair Moody)” but God has done a number on my heart thus far.  I am finding a peace and contentment in spite of my weight.  I am finding assurance and confidence in relationships without being in control.  I am finding a friend in my Jesus that has for so long been ignored and looked over.  I have hope.  Trust me, hope is both a wonderful and scary thing.  I am learning to not seek to control those things around me but to instead do my very best and trust God with the details.  There is so much in this world that we cannot control and the longer we try the more we are unable to be of service to God.

Most people that know me know that my lifelong ambition is to be married and have children.  I want a family.  My desire for that family has caused me to seek it in all the wrong places.  No, not sex and men.  But I have looked for friendship and emotional intimacy in so many people that will never be filled.  I am learning these days what a genuine real life friendship looks like free of the demands of a spouse.  I no longer expect my friends to fill a hole they can never fill.  Am I perfect?  No, I mess up all the time.  You can ask my friends.  They will tell you.  But I am trying and trusting.

Those are a few things from my past, so what do I see in 2014?  I am not sure but I am expecting God to do something great.  I don’t know what that great will be and remember God sent the savior of the world to be born in a stable but I do know there is a plan and I am determined that for me, 2014 will be a time that even while I wait, I will trust in him.  My focus verses for the year are threefold:

1) “This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Habakkuk 2:3

2) “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.” Psalm 105:19

3) “It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise.” Hebrews 11:11

I hope that each of you instead of a resolution are looking for a verse to build your 2014 on.  His word is the ONLY foundation.  May your 2014 bring honor and glory to our Lord.