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2019. I Didn't Crush It.

My Mother gave me a pair of fuzzy green socks this Christmas. We laughed at the bit of wit as the socks had an image of a nutcracker and included the words "crushed it." We've all seen gifs or memes about crushing it when one accomplishes something that they are proud of--winning a race, receiving an award, acing an exam or having the perfect retort. We all love that feeling of achievement! Wouldn't it be sweet to feel that sense of victory as we come to the conclusion of this year?

But as I look down at my sock-clad feet, I feel the opposite.

I didn't crush 2019.

Instead, it almost crushed me.

I'm not finishing this year with my hands raised high in the air as I cross the finish line. Instead, I feel like I've spent most of it limping along. To be honest, sometimes I've been barely crawling.

You don't feel very successful when you have a hard time getting out of bed. You aren't raising your fist high in triumph when you are trying hard just to hold onto hope. There are no victory laps when you are just putting one foot in front of the other.

This year has not been easy. Unexpected hits. Crises I wasn't expecting. Decisions I didn't know I would have to make.

And then the devastating news that our oldest son's life on earth was over. Followed the next day with the same news about our nephew.

Two graveside services in as many days. Our family holding each other up as we wept.







There are so many aspects of grief and they can be triggered when you least expect it.

I'm sure not everyone reading this will have experienced the physical death of a loved one this past year. However, I'm sure we have all experienced death in one form or another.

Death of a dream.

Death of a relationship.

Death of the way we thought things were or would be.

Death of an expectation that we held dear.

Grief and loss are part of this world. There are so many ways that we can feel broken and crushed. So many times when life as we know it comes to a screeching halt. Death is always at work in us.

But the Creator continues creating.

A green shoot emerges from the dead stump.

Something new and sweet begins to develop in us that might not have been able to without the fertilizer of sorrow.

In the crushing, something new can arise. I don't always see it. But if I allow my sorrow to press me into His side instead of away from Him, I eventually taste grace again.

If we look to the God of resurrection, we begin to find evidences of new life in our shattered hearts.

We notice that loved ones seem even more precious. The news of a baby grandson on the way after so much heartache seems an even sweeter gift. We hug our loved ones a little tighter and appreciate their lives a little more. Connections and growth take place that would not have without the common bond of grief. Conversations are deeper. Laughter is sweeter.

We have a new desire to share the gospel because we are aware of many others who are also in the pit of despair with us. We notice other breaking hearts because ours is broken, too. We want them to know the hope and peace that we have. We know that the peace we experience is not as the world gives--it is something precious that comes from God's grace. We want others to know the good news, too.

So, as I limp to the end of this year and look ahead to next year, I'm reminded of

these words that Paul wrote in the New Testament:

But we have this treasure in clay jars to show that its extraordinary power comes from God and not from us. In every way we’re troubled but not crushed, frustrated but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. We are always carrying around the death of Jesus in our bodies, so that the life of Jesus may be clearly shown in our bodies. While we are alive, we are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be clearly shown in our mortal bodies. And so death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 2 Corinthians 4:7--12

I didn't crush 2019. And that's okay. We don't have to be victorious champions.

When we are weak, we are more likely to reach out to the One who is strong.

Death and heartbreak are a part of life on this earth. It is likely that more will come in some form or another in 2020. But there is One who goes before us. I know He brings hope, comfort, and peace even in the midst of hard things.

That gives me strength to step into tomorrow. I hope it does for you, too.

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