When my kids were little, we took a long road trip every Christmas to visit family. On the drive home, we would talk about the new year coming, and each one of us would share our 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year goals. That is a great memory that I have. Mine usually consisted of the usual– lose weight, read my bible more, have more patience, etc.
I still like to look ahead and have plans, visions, and hopes for the new year and beyond, but this year I’m doing something a little different. I’m actually looking back. To be honest, this is the first year since R died that I can look back with what I think is clarity and indeed gain strength from the past 7 years.
I am finally at a point in my life where I can tell myself “I can do this because I know from my past that I can do hard things.” This knowledge is one thing that comes from living life after loss or another tragedy. I do have a strength that I never would have had without doing the hard work of GRIEF.
The years of working through my grief when I was a school librarian, I worked out almost every morning at 5 a.m. Two of those mornings consisted of meeting friends to run in a nearby neighborhood. We ran between 3.5 and 4 miles those mornings saving our “long run” for Saturday morning. I remember several times when I was dealing with a much larger than me, teenage boy, telling myself- “Hey, you were up running in the dark streets at 5 this morning. You can handle this tough teenager.”
The point I’m trying to make is that even if you haven’t experienced a terrible tragedy, you can look back on your past and realize that You Can Do Hard Things. Before the loss of my husband in 2012, I led a pretty idyllic life, but even then I had done hard things to draw from when I needed the reminder. I had been married for 26 years. We all know how hard marriage is. I had raised two kids into their 20’s- super hard work!! I had graduated from college and taught school. Again, hard.
Those things in my pre-loss life weren’t anything compared to losing my husband, but they are still examples that we have all done hard things. The longer we live, the harder the “things” become.
I encourage you on this first day of this new year to spend some time looking back, as I know most of you will undoubtedly be spending time looking forward, and remember that You Can Do Hard Things. It would certainly be my hope and prayer for each of us that we don’t have to remember that phrase in 2019, but I know that won’t be the case.
Today and for the first few days of this new year, I hope to reflect on what I’ve been through that has made me stronger while I’m looking ahead to a new year that I’m more excited about than I have been in a very long time. I still hope to lose weight, read my bible more, and have more patience, but I’m also excited to have some even more specific goals.
May we all be proud of what we have survived and use the strength and knowledge that we have gained from it to be the new foundation of our lives in this new year and beyond.