I pray this letter finds you well.
You see, you have been a big skim-board to the shin.
An unpleasant, unexpected, cringe-worthy sting to what was supposed to be a pleasant walk along the ocean.
Sure, maybe a lot of it was my own doing. I wasn’t paying attention. I was blissfully ignoring the warning signs. I had my feet dipped in the clear blue water expecting happiness, contentment and peace, only the kind you receive when you do in fact have your toes in the water and you stare out into the deep. Only the kind you receive when you live in a fantasy world and think you can live a problem-free, easy-breezy life. I politely denied the fact there were amateur skim-boarders and beach-goers along the water line, trying to find the same escape I was. It was packed. The Jersey Shore is always packed. I didn’t see it coming.
Or… maybe I did. And I simply wasn’t quick enough to step out of the way. I wasn’t quick enough to ask for help, to grab hold of the people around me willing to pull me out of the way of what was to come.
So ya got me. Ya got me good. Right in the shin. And oh man have I been angry. No body likes getting hit in the shin. Even the strongest of men will whimper and limp in agony over a nice shot to the shin bone.
I’ve been angry at you, 2017. For a lot of reasons. You tore me down emotionally. You tore me down physically. You tore me down mentally. I hit rock bottom in many ways this year, finding myself hysterical, delirious, ill and collapsed on my kitchen floor more times than I can count, for no apparent reasons other than this overwhelming weight on my chest that pounded hate into me with each breath. You made me hate myself. You made me forget myself. You made me believe I was nothing. You had me convinced everyone hated me, including my spouse, my son… and God.
You took the small confidence I had when I trusted God and grabbed his hand and leaped into nothingness except the faith I had that he would catch me when I made changes to my job, schedule and finances… and you gave me the illusion that I had fallen. You pulled the rug from under me, a rug that was supposed to be new and adventurous and a step toward my goals and dreams and instead of celebrating the accomplishment, I found myself gasping for breath, like the ocean I once stood at admiring and aspiring to conquer swallowed me up whole, never to be seen again.
I have been so angry at you. You deceived me. You belittled me. You stripped me down to nothing. You hit me in the damn shin. And I have been limping away ever since, looking back at you with a clenched fist and angry, tear-filled eyes wanting nothing more than to punch you in the face, 2017. But I haven’t had the right words to say to you with all that I’ve been feeling.
But here I am. Day 1 of 2018 and I’m ready, and I have something to say to you. I’ve been waiting a long time to say this, to get the right words out. To give you everything I’ve got for what you put me through, what I allowed you to put me through. You deserve what I’m about to throw at you. You deserve each and every word for the pain you caused. You ready for it? Okay, here we go:
Take that, 2017…
You taught me something. You taught me that evil is real, but God is greater. You taught me that I am worthy, because “if you are doing anything of worth, then the enemy is doing everything in his power to make you quit,” (Jennie Allen). You taught me that I am not alone. You taught me that no matter how far down to the pit of the ocean I can go, God is still there. And so are many others, willing to share the oxygen tanks they’ve acquired in their own journeys to the pit. You taught me that when you reach the end of yourself, God can reveal Himself. You taught me that sometimes it’s okay to realize you don’t have it all together and that embracing your weaknesses and faults and shortcomings is actually a good thing because it allows you to learn how to love yourself for who you really are and not who you thought you needed to be in order to be loved by God. He already loves me and sees me and knows me and accepts me even when I daily don’t accept myself. When you convinced me to hate myself, I saw it as a story already written in stone, but God saw it as a clean slate.
Yes, I am tired. No, I am not “cured.” Yes, I still battle. No, I don’t have it figured out.
I struggle. To love myself and love others well. I struggle to love God. I struggle to tame my anxiety and depression and have accepted the need for outside help like counseling and medication. I struggle.
Like everyone else.
Like everyone else who struggles to say ‘thank you’ to 2017 when all they wanna do is kick it in the pants and move on. Like everyone else who struggles with the giant weight on their chest that pounds the words, “You suck. You are not enough. You are not worthy. Nobody likes you. No one cares about you. You will not succeed.” Like everyone else who sees the surprising, yet unfortunately not so surprising, tragic events happen in our world every other day and feels this overwhelming loss of hope and faith in God and humanity. Like everyone else wondering where the money will come from, where the strength will come from, where the people will come from to help in their needs. Like everyone else who you tried to destroy, 2017.
We struggle. But we are battling. We struggle. But we are resilient.
You see, you forgot about one thing 2017. Probably the most important thing in your attempt to steal, kill and destroy us.
You cannot kill what you did not create.
And you see the God who did create us? He’s not in this job to kill.
He’s in it to save. To love. To protect.
To take each and every single skim-board to the shin for us.
To take what you meant for evil and turn it into good.
Ya got me good, 2017. Ya really did. I gotta hand it to ya, I’m still limping.
But I’m not angry anymore. In fact, I’m actually now quite amused. Because the fact that anybody can get hit that many times in the shin with your skim-board can really only mean one thing…
You suck at skim-boarding.
I pray this letter finds you well.
Question — do you skim-board? …