January marks the beginning of each new year, and with that there is often hope that the new year will be better than the previous one. So what happens when the beginning of a new year doesn’t just feel like the end to the previous year, but it actually feels like the end? The end of hope and maybe even the end of life.
This month marks three years since losing baby Micah. We had been so hopeful on New Year’s Day of 2015 as we expected to welcome home a new baby a few months later. But instead, our baby died and was born 20 weeks too soon. It was the end of a life that had not yet begun outside of the womb. It was the end of the hope that I had for that year and the end of the dreams that I held for my baby. The expansion of my belly had stopped short, along with my baby’s life and the expansion of our family. And it felt like it was the end of my own life.
I remember very little that was happening around me that year. But I do remember feeling disappointed, maybe even jealous, at the beginnings that those surrounding me were experiencing while I trudged through the most disappointing ending that I had ever experienced. There were the beginnings of new businesses, new marriages, new adventures in new homes, and new family dynamics as some around me brought babies of their own home.
I wondered why everyone else’s life seemed to be going as planned. Others had set goals, made resolutions, and planned out their year in order to make it a successful one; a better one than the year before. And all I could think of was how my year didn’t begin as I had planned. It had started off in a way that I couldn’t imagine being any worse, and there was no way to control my circumstances in order to make the rest of the year any better. I went through most of that year feeling hopeless and alone, my only goal being to survive each day.
And miraculously, I did survive each day. The days turning into weeks, and then months as I wondered when things would get better. Or if things would get better.
My plans weren’t God’s plans. The beginning of that year did not go as I had expected; it was actually far worse than I could have imagined. But you know what? The end of that year didn’t go as expected either. It ended better than it had begun as I was surprised to find myself pregnant again. A testament that we never truly know what God has in store for us, but that he promises us good things.
The good things given to me might look different than the good things given to you. Our good things might come at different times, but the Lord promises both you and me good things. Try to remember that when whatever ending you might be facing is not the ending you had wanted.
Today, as I reflect on that awful January of three years ago, I can look back and say that it was an ending which turned out to be a beginning. The beginning of an understanding that God breaks us in order to help us bloom. The beginning of a new person that God continues to mold me into, a new person that is slowly becoming better than the one before. The beginning of a more compassionate person, a more patient person, a person more willing to wait on the Lord.
So, what happens when it seems that you have come to the end? You simply keep going. One.day.at.a.time. You draw on the Lord’s strength because you have none of your own. You keep hoping. Because there will be better days. They may not come this year, or the next, or even in your lifetime, but they will come because God promises that they will. That’s all you can do when circumstances are out of your control. When your plans take a nosedive with no upswing in sight. And I know that’s all easier said than done. Trust me, I know. But I also know that God has plans for us that include a hopeful and blessed future. We just have to keep going.