If you're not familiar with the OneWord Challenge, it is where instead of making a long list of New Year's Resolutions, you choose a single word to focus on for the year. I've done this for a number of years now, and if you're curious, you can go back to January of the previous few years and read about the words I chose. Last year (2016), my OneWord was VICTORY.
I don't choose these words lightly. I typically spend time at the end of the previous year praying and asking God what is something He wants me to focus on for the upcoming year. I remember last time when I really felt like God was putting VICTORY on my heart...I was in the middle of a very rough patch, and I really didn't understand how I could pick a word like that when I was struggling so much...
Then the year started off with me being admitted to the hospital...and I REALLY didn't understand how I was supposed to focus on victory when my health was worse than it had ever been. And now that I'm back to feeling so rough, it can be hard to focus on how 2016 was a year of VICTORY.
But it was...oh, it SO was...
I went from lying in a hospital bed in January to running by April. I was struggling to tolerate my tube feeds during that admission at the beginning of the year, yet in September and October I was able to eat real food while I was in Disney and Yosemite. From being mostly home bound to traveling all over the country. Yes, this year was absolutely a year of VICTORY.
But even more than the physical victories that I saw throughout this year, I've learned that victory is not always what we expect.
Sometimes VICTORY is big and exciting. It's finally getting Xolair approved after months of fighting with insurance. It's eating my first solid food meal in over a year. It's taking that first run on my own. It's taking our first flight in years to a family wedding. It's being able to enjoy Disney. It's taking our first vacation as a couple to the other side of the country. It's regaining enough balance and coordination to hike around Yosemite. Yes, sometimes we see VICTORY in these huge moments that stand out, change the course of our year, and are remembered long after they are over.
But sometimes, VICTORY looks a little different. Sometimes it's the quietness of regular life. It's the days, weeks, and months lived without our lives revolving around ER trips and hospitals. It's Nick coming home after a day of work to a home cooked meal. It's sleeping through the night. It's being able to go to Bible study a couple of weeks in a row. It's getting "stuck" in our routines because we have the luxury of normality.
This year has been a year of so much VICTORY. We had the exciting moments and the quiet ones. We've had adventures that would never have been possible in 2015. We've smiled through buckets of tears and laughed until I couldn't breathe (literally...). We celebrated some of the best health that I've had in a few years. And we are SO GRATEFUL for every moment of VICTORY, both big and small.
But even in the midst of a year of overwhelming VICTORY, we've also had some tough, tough moments. I remember crying when not even a week into 2016, I was admitted for uncontrolled mast cell issues with no answers. I had no idea what this year was going to look like and was so discouraged. I definitely did not feel very victorious going in to day 4 in the hospital with no direction.
These past two months has also challenged this year of VICTORY as I have had a drastic increase in symptoms with no known cause. Just in the last 2 weeks of the year, I dealt with more anaphylaxis, procedures, and new devices in my body than I would have ever anticipated. Even after all the VICTORY of the past 9 months, suddenly I'm not feeling so victorious...
But what an incredible reflection of our VICTORY in Christ. It's not always linear and certainly not always smooth. Christ had to die before He saw His victory over death, why should we expect to achieve victory in our own lives without a struggle?
This year I used more EpiPens than I ever have in a year. I've had 2 tube changes, been admitted 3 times, and had surgery for a central line. I regained the ability to run and eat only to lose both AGAIN just a few short months later. In some ways, this was one of the toughest years I've ever had with my mast cell disease.
But at the same time, I also had months of better health than I ever could have dreamed of the same time last year. I traveled to MN twice, spent time with family in WI, flew to TX for a wedding, enjoyed Disney with my mom in FL, took an actual vacation with Nick to CA. I spent months being able to actually EAT. I was able to run 6+ miles again. Right now, as I'm struggling so much just like I was at the beginning of 2016, even I can't forget how much VICTORY I had last year.
So even though this year didn't finish the way I would have liked, I am so thankful for every moment of victory I had. And I'm also thankful for the tough moments, tears, and frustration. Without those moments, victory would not have felt nearly as victorious. Even though I felt like I would crumble under the weight of the struggle at times, I am thankful.