One of the Hardest Years of My Life

{Photo credit: Calvary Church Jupiter}

2019 was one of the hardest years of my life.

This is me, just being honest.

One day I will blog openly about this. Promise. It’s too crazy not to. Actually, I’ve even considered writing a novel based on some of the zany events that happened. Who knows. But what I can tell you is that in life, you have to focus on the positive (God’s Word) or you may go batty.

I came close, that’s for sure.

I was also able to find a few friends I could trust with the private events of my life, who I knew were praying me through the bumps. On the other hand, I had other good friends and relatives that meant well, but each time I walked away from a conversation I felt less encouraged. This uncomfortable feeling has become my signal to take gentle steps back for a season, for my sanity’s sake.

It kind of reminded me of Job and his three naysaying buddies he should have silenced the second they spoke anything negative. But I believe Job’s story lines God’s Word for a reason.

In life, we are always learning. I know I am. I love what Joyce Meyer’s says in her book Change Your Words, Change Your Life, “A word of encouragement during a crisis is worth more than an hour of praise after victory. When we encourage others, we let them borrow our courage.”

I hope this story brings you encouragement for 2020.

~~~

December 2018 was a rough month.

This time, my husband was fighting sickness, not me. His new gastrologist ordered a colonoscopy test after he felt much fatigue and stress from a taxing job, gobs of pressure and his current physician switching some of his daily medications. On top of this, he decided it was time to start his own company. Health-wise, he could no longer take the 50-100 emails and pressure to perform day in and day out without even a weekend to rest. His body was shot.

My husband is brilliant and confident and a go-getter. Yet, I had never seen him this weak before.

During this transition, I’d been the supportive, compassionate wife, until my two-day field trip to St. Augustine with my three younger kiddos ages 11, 13, and 15. A vacation sounded nice, until my morning routine slipped into chaos

I don’t do well when my morning routine flops.

My ritual looks like this: wake, savor my coffee, journal, and then spend time with the Lord. I’ve done this pretty consistently ever since my stem-cell transplant back in 2000.

Funny how a disease can bring you to your knees and point you back to dependency on the only All-Knowing Being you’ll ever need. But this weekend I unraveled into a complaining mess.

My poor kids.

We stayed in your typical 1-bedroom hotel, complete with 2 queen beds, which was fine until I woke the next morning and realized that the only place to sneak away for my quiet time was in the bathroom, sitting on the cold tile floor with the loud exhaust fan rumbling each time I flipped on the light. Only, I had slept in a little.

I never sleep in.

At 8 am, I heard the kids stirring, so I rushed to get ready, rushed to grab my coffee I had started before the crew decided to powerup their devices, and that’s when my sweet son asked if he could have some, you know, coffee? I said, “Sure,” as I searched for my makeup bag, only he didn’t realize that first cup I had left at the coffee machine was mine. I assumed at age 13 he would make his own. When I turned to grab my caffeinated-goodness, I saw him sip away at my only source of wake-my-hazy-mind-up solution.

(In case you didn’t know, I don’t share cups with my kids. I have germ issues from years of protecting my weakened immune system.)

That’s when I reprimanded him for not first asking me if that was mine, and proceeded to make another cup. Then we wrestled for the bathroom and the blow dryer, and I finally hustled everyone down for our continental breakfast, skipping my normal counseling session with God.

No biggie, right?

I always show up. What’s missing one day going to hurt?

Well, I was snippy and in full-on lecture mode most of the morning. I glared at them when they weren’t intently listening to the tour guide, and texted them when they whispered to a friend on the trolley. Basically, the night ended on a bitter note and by 9 pm, I rattled off my dissatisfaction with them not taking our field trip more seriously. This is St. Augustine, after all, and there was much to be learned!

(Can you imagine the creepy eye-twitching I had going on right about now? So embarrassing.)

That’s when the bad-mom-guilt hit. I had been awful. I apologized for my unpleasant actions before going to bed. But as soon as my eyes closed, my mind rattled off all my fears: “What are we doing starting our own business, what if it fails? What about insurance? What about retirement? What if my husband’s colonoscopy results come back with the unthinkable?” All of this anxiety weighed me down like someone had wrapped a shawl with bowling ball tassels across my shoulders.

I fell asleep that night so incredibly uneasy and woke the next morning to the same scenario:

No place to have a quiet time.

Once we loaded in the van, I did have the kids read from my book (oftentimes this lifts my spirit because it reminds me of each place that God has shown up), and then an excerpt from Joyce Meyer’s book, Change your Words, Change your Life.

This helped a little, until those negative voices grew louder. So, I called a friend for wise counsel on our four-hour drive home. Then another. Then a relative. No one brought me comfort. No one definitively said, “Your husband’s test results will come back clear! He is going to do great in this next business venture! You won’t have to worry about health insurance or a sickness, or paying your mortgage! God’s got this.”

Nope.

It was all the ways we could survive. We could sell the house. Downsize and rent a two-bedroom condo, just outside of town. I could work a couple of jobs while Jason healed and the kids were old enough to school themselves at home, or go to traditional school.

Nothing was wrong with the advice given, even though I desperately desired for them to say the most positive words.

But they weren’t God.

Nothing can take the place of His wisdom and peace.

I cried silently behind my oversized sunglasses the day I felt our life was spiraling out of control. I sought counsel from everyone other than the One True Source. People mean well, but they’re not always the best advice-givers.

They’re human, just like me.

It wasn’t until the next morning when I finally cracked open my Bible that it hit me.

Of course, God directed me to Job 42, where He says that Job had to repent and seek Him. Job had listened to the counsel from three well-meaning friends who’s theories were flawed during the most miserable time in his life. After 30 some-odd chapters later, he finally listened to God and accepted that He was in control and no plan of His can be thwarted.

Job repented, prayed for his friends, and then was blessed twice as much as he was before.

Time with God is my silver bullet straight to the heart of my sinful fear.

Only God can lead me, not a well-meaning girlfriend or relative. Not my amazing spouse whom I rely so heavily on, only my Lord and Savior.

Time alone with Him changes my thoughts and actions.

In fact, seven years ago, back in 2012, when I had missed my quiet time when my oldest daughter Madison was only 13, she caught me sobbing on our floor, and she sheepishly asked, “Mom, have you spent time with Jesus?”

“No,” I quivered out.

“Maybe you can shut your door and read your Bible while I make breakfast?”

My 13-year-old got it.

She knew and felt and saw the difference of a mom filled with the spirit verses one running off of fearful fumes.

There is me inside of me, and God inside of me and whichever one I spend time with will surface.

If there’s one tidbit of wisdom I can offer you for 2020, it’s to start the year solid by seeking His counsel each day for your sanity’s sake.

No plan of His can be thwarted, friends. Surrender, and seek God and see how much more mellow your day flows.

I love how God writes these stories throughout Scripture. Job’s life with all of its twists and downward turns seemed horrific for a season. When researching the Scripture, it appears that his torturous time added up to roughly a year of losing everything he loved before God restored him.

God says that every word written in the Bible is written to teach us and help us see some hope in what we’re facing. I believe He wanted us to see the pain others have walked through and give us hope and a picture to look to and say, “See, God helped this desolate man, surely if we follow Him, He will help us, too.”

There’s no other reason I can think of that God would have shared this crazy story, other than to encourage us today.

Read on in Job 42, and listen to what you feel the Lord is speaking to you today.

Job Submits Himself to the Lord

“Then Job replied to the Lord:

“I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I (Job)—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
You (Lord) said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.’
I (Job) had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”…

10 When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes….So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning…

Have you written out your New Year’s Resolution yet? My encouragement to you is to read God’s Word every day, even if it is one verse in Proverbs a day. Start somewhere. This is one of silver bullets that shatters the enemy’s bombardment.

~~~

PS I started off by saying 2019 was one of the hardest years of my life. And it was. The fantastic news is that Jason finally found the main answer for his fatigue, praise God! This made December 2019 our best month of the year. And his new business is heading in the right direction, and even though I shared a very raw story about a couple of bad days, I’ve learned from my mistakes, and make it a point to start my day with Jesus. And lastly, another valuable lesson I’ve grown from this year is about how I offer advice to others. I want to be the Joyce Meyer who encourages you, and let’s you borrow any courage I may have.

Happy New Year, friends. May God bless you richly this year as you follow Him.

{Photo Credit: rosemartinphoto.com}

  1. suzy4601 says:

    Oh Dabney, this brought tears to me eyes. I have so been there! Thank you for your transparency and for the reminder to start our days with God. You are correct….He is the only one with the best advice for us. I too had a rough year as you know and look forward to what 2020 has to offer. Love you guys.

  2. Christina Davis says:

    What a great reminder and such great timing. Thank you!

  3. Mary Sweeney says:

    So good, Dabney!
    Loved this : Time with God is my silver bullet straight to the heart of my sinful fear.
    When fear comes, it’s always due to not spending enough time in His Word.
    Thanks for the reminder. Going to be at the top of my list. 🙂
    Happy New Year to you and your sweet family.

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