The year of being 36 is over for me.
It was, by far, the most difficult year I’ve faced yet. It was definitely the most painful. And it was, hands down, the most exhausting.
Thirty-six was also one of the most beautiful years I’ve lived through. It was one of the most grace-filled, and was abundant in blessings.
Which leads me to the lesson that being 36 taught me:
Just because something is difficult, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.
It’s honestly kind of hard for me to sit here and look back over the past 365 days. I had no idea on my birthday last year what lay ahead for me. I didn’t know that I would go through months of waking up every morning and muffling my screams in a pillow for hours until the pain meds kicked in. I didn’t know my knees would swell to the point where I couldn’t bend or straighten them. I didn’t know I would try to get out of bed and fall because my legs could no longer take the pain of standing.
I didn’t know I would balloon by 70 pounds in four short months, that I would deal with deformities and new medications and the trauma of doctor changes in the middle of the crisis. I didn’t know I’d become allergic to more things, to new foods, that I would never risk opening a window or allowing people into my home without a check list of questions first. I didn’t know I’d have to exist in a room of purified air and seclusion.
I didn’t know when I was at the height of the sickness that I would eventually start regaining some movement. I didn’t know when the swelling would start to go down or when I would begin to see myself in the mirror again.
But those things began to happen.
I didn’t know how much normalcy I would regain, or how much of the limitations would stay.
I still don’t. I’m still a long way from where I was on my last birthday.
I didn’t know it would be so difficult.
But I also had no idea how blessed this year would be.
I didn’t know that all of you would step up and be a lifeline of support for me when I could barely raise my head off the pillow.
I didn’t know that some of my family would drop things in their lives to hunt down doctors in their offices for me, or that friends would show up with new clothes to try to make me feel better about not fitting into anything I used to wear, and different gadgets to make my space functional.
I didn’t know that I would form new bonds with people through the vast cyberspace…
… and I didn’t know that some of those internet friends would be walking into my home and hugging me around the neck.
I didn’t know how strong I was… how strong He made me to be. I didn’t know He would show me new ways to look at my world and find the peace and joy surrounding me constantly.
I didn’t know that random kindness would show up at my door in the form of cards and notes of love that filled me up and kept me focused. I didn’t know that I would find even more friends who would become family to me. I didn’t know the community of people on blogs and Twitter would rally to love me in the darkest places where pain would leave me secluded and alone.
I didn’t know.
But I should have known.
Because some form of all of these “I didn’t know’s” happen to each of us every year. And I’ve never gone through one of those years without everything I needed.
Because He provides me with what I need, when I need it.
He sees the difficult in our lives, and He makes sure that the difficult isn’t overcome with the bad. He makes sure the difficult is surrounded with blessings.
He makes sure that, while the list of difficult things may be longer…
… the list of blessings hold more weight.
Thank you all for giving my life weight this past year.