There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
I scan through my 2014 journal, and think Wow—I'm still struggling with the same old issues. Also evident on the pages is the incredible tenderness of a father towards his doubt filled daughter.
Two things that impacted my year greatly: travel and doubt. My daughter and her family live overseas, they are in the tent-making business in North Africa. Given two trips, I spent almost two and a half months with her family in 2014. In dark places, I witnessed the grace, I saw the light shine from that home. Comments I heard, Everyone wants to be at her house. Oh you speak Arabic well, confirmed my experience. She also speaks love well.
I page through my journal and see entries like: Only beauty helps, and Progress is being made. Stop apologizing for the space you are taking up on the page.
Repeatedly, my journal reads ... Reign in me, let me be your vessel.
Looking back, looking ahead ... February 27, 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the accident that claimed my son, his fiancee, and my youngest daughter. I cannot even type this without tears. I quote a centenarian who said, Some decades are hard. In many ways I feel that God is bringing that difficult decade to a close. Difficult is the ridiculous understatement. But dashed dreams, shattered lives have given rise to new hope, renewal, new stories, international God stories in the shared human experience of the deep level of human struggle.
In December I had the privilege to partake in the gathering, the day after the death of a North African man I'd never met, but I hugged and greeted the woman whose husband had died the day before. This privilege extended because of the powerful connection that shared suffering brings. Two years earlier my daughter and I formed a bond with this lady, two months after the death of her 13 year old daughter. The girl had been struck by a taxi on her way to school and held onto life for a month before succumbing to her injuries. The parents were beside themselves in grief. We visited their home and my daughter translated my story with her, and together in that we home we shared the Rachel weeping for her children moment. That connection now permitted me to share this loss experience of her husband. The lady said to my daughter Your mother understands and came to share the sorrow. My prayers went up in that room, as my daughter held and stroked the woman, and I drank the bitter tea that was served.
Like Bobbi Junior, I too was a reluctant author, and my publishing deal was similar to Bobbi's—okay God I will write the story, but I want you to be in charge of promotions. It is not easy to share, to promote your own difficult story. Last April, I was asked to speak in my Manitoba home town. I said yes, and prepared/prayed with all due diligence. My sister picked me up from the airport and as we were driving to the event, I told her “The numbers are out of my control.” I was going to be okay, if they only had thirty people show up, I think I even said twenty, knowing full well that thirty would devastate me. We arrived early to set up and the young woman in charge of the event met me, and informed me they were setting up extra tables, they had sold out, but more people were asking for tickets. There were over 200 ladies each evening, and I was humbled to see how God spoke through my vulnerability and willingness to share my journey of grief.
And looking ahead, I have Trust and Become as my dual themes for 2015.
Keep trusting God to overcome my doubts with His presence.
Continue to become the woman God has called me to be.
Three weeks into 2015 and I am becoming more curious to see what God is up to.
It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth—and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up—that we will begin to live each day to the fullest as if it was the only one we had. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
The travels show me God's spirit world wide, the doubts keep me searching.
Jocelyn is the author of Who is Talking Out of My Head - Grief as an Out of Body Experience. She blogs at: http://whoistalking.wordpress.com