“Adversity is like a fire that, rather than destroying you, can refine, strengthen, and beautify you.”
– Tim Keller
In August (2016), I bid farewell to my mid-twenties and welcomed a new year of life—beginning my 29th trip around the sun. It’s fitting that around that same time, we moved to the desert where I can honestly say I’ve never been so fully aware of the sun.
Celebrating a birthday, another year of life, is exciting and always makes me think about the many ways I can grow in my faith, marriage, friendships, and ultimately press on towards the woman I was created to be.
However, saying farewell to anything in this one precious life always presents a challenge. As I reflect back over the last year of life, I’m grateful for the opportunities that helped me to grow, but maybe a little too excited to leave it behind, for it’s been a long, hard trip through what seemed like the wilderness.
Over this year, I’ve experienced immense heartbreak and suffering. Walking through months of suffering and heartbreak taught me that they are actually many times all-consuming. And though hard to do, I’ve learned when you share your present sufferings with friends, you lighten the burden on yourself, creating what is like a snowshoe effect, as my dear and wise friend so eloquently pointed out to me. On that note, I’ve been blown away by the friends willing to be a part of my “snowshoe.” (Seriously, thank you so.)
And while I’ve experienced real heartbreak and real suffering, I’ve also experienced moments of pure joy. Where one dear friend’s marriage came to an ugly end, I stood beside another on her wedding day that can only be described as amazing and witnessed as they exchanged vows. And while we lost what would have been our first baby, I was able to share in the joy of seeing multiple friends welcome their babies into the world — twins even!
As for my marriage, I love my husband now more than I ever thought was possible for my human heart. But only after the trials we faced together and especially after being a part for months with his working around the clock on the campaign trail.
As for my friendships, I’ve flown across the country, hiked up and skied down mountains with friends. I’ve sat on porches, and held hands as we looked out across the great blue skies towards the heavens and been grateful for this life I’ve been given and for those to enjoy it with. I’ve made such dear friends in these new places we’ve been planted. And spent countless nights falling asleep as I mutter prayers for their struggles, thankful for the gift to know their stories and to walk alongside them in their present sufferings.
So even in the midst of great pain, I’ve learned the hard way and perhaps the only way that we are never more than a breath beyond the mercy and grace of our dear Lord and Savior. For out of the ashes comes new life and perhaps that’s been the greatest lesson of all this year.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”