Have you ever drowned? Or rather, almost drowned? The feeling where you are gasping for air, lungs burning, every time just getting enough to keep you going for a few seconds before the need to gasp for more air…
I drowned in 2015, figuratively speaking… I have family and close friends who also drowned, some are still drowning, experiencing death of a loved one, illness, divorce, retrenchment, loss, tragedy, shame and failure. It was definitely one of the hardest years I’ve (and I believe my family and friends) ever experienced…
I’m not writing this post to compare hardships or to claim that my year was worse than someone else’s. I’m basically just sharing my experience as it reminded me of some things I had forgotten…
Looking back now there were times of worry, doubt, uncertainty and hopelessness, but it was also the year where new ideas were born (like this blog) and a rediscovery of how amazingly God just knows exactly what we need when… almost like providing a gasp of air through a much needed snorkel at exactly the right time…
During 2015 I underwent three unexpected surgeries to my vocal cords (the one tool I need to work as a special needs teacher) and was on sudden unpaid sick leave for four months. This caught us off guard like you won’t believe. My teacher’s salary is a big part of our total income. I also didn’t know if I would be able to teach again.
My husband and I suddenly had tens of thousands in medical bills to pay on top of our normal mortgage, car payment and living costs of a family of four. Our eldest was also admitted to hospital with a virus, and our car got broken into. During this time it was confirmed that I had vocal cord nerve damage, meaning that it is a lifelong condition that should be managed by regular (expensive) specialist visits, teaching with a microphone and vocal therapy.
It felt as if someone dropped me into the deepest ocean without a life jacket. I however quickly realised that although I wasn’t pulled out of the water like I hoped, God not only provided a snorkel to get necessary air, but also goggles to see life from a different perspective from under the water.
He provided in the most amazing ways. He touched people’s hearts and before we knew it we had colleagues providing meals and free therapy for our boy, a friend paying for our eldest’s school fees for four months, another friend dropping milk and bread every week, another friend helping with monthly payments and some groceries, another friend inviting us for dinners, payments into our bank accounts from family and strangers, acquaintances sending necessities and nappies for our smallest and another family member lending us money when our credit card maxed out…
Now for two educated people in their mid-thirties, with five qualifications between the two of us and a lot of pride to go with that, it was not easy for my husband and I to accept help. Previously we were the ones helping others and now the tables were turned. We are eternally grateful for all the help we received as we were never hungry, were able to keep up with the payments on our house and car and thanks to two temporary disability claim pay-outs were also able to pay off all the medical bills.
I am grateful for the breaths God provided through the snorkels of friends and family and I’m thankful for the goggles of perspective He lent us.
It reminded me of a few things that had slipped my mind:
- No-one knows what tomorrow may bring.
- It is a huge privilege to be able to go to work, even if it isn’t your dream job.
- Never ever take your health for granted.
- Love your loved ones purposefully.
- Never think you’ve figured it all out, you always have more to learn.
- Always thank God for every cent in your pocket.
- Don’t underestimate the goodness there is still to be found in this broken world.
- It is OK to ask for and accept help.
- Appreciate the small things.
- A support system is crucial.
- Good can come from bad.
- You actually need much less than you think.
- God knows what you need, always.
- You can sometimes only gain if you are willing to loose.
- You can survive anything if you choose to.
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
In the midst of our situation in 2015 it felt as if we would never breathe easy again, but here we are, already in the second month of a new year. We are definitely not out of the red yet but eagerly awaiting breakthroughs as new opportunities and challenges await. I am excited and grateful to know that even through tough times and deep pools, God is with us and guiding us, providing necessary air and perspective.
I don’t know how your 2015 was or how bad or good your past has been. All I know is that there is a future and that there is always hope. I salute you who are surviving the death of a loved one, illness, shame, divorce, retrenchment, loss, tragedy and failure.
May you experience a blessed 2016 in more ways than one and may this year be remembered as a breath of fresh air.
Our little family in December 2015. So incredibly thankful for all the breaths of fresh air we received!