The 2021 Rollercoaster
What a rollercoaster year 2021 has been.
This time last year I was working on my dissertation, perhaps the most difficult challenge I’ve undertaken. I interviewed participants in my study of how grandparents pass down their faith to their grandchildren through storytelling. I then wrote it as a narrative, telling their stories in their own words. It took me until June to finish. And the review process was brutal and filled with twists and turns that left me in tears. I was exhausted and ready for a break.
So in June, I took a trip to Alaska as a graduation present. Ketchikan was so beautiful, it was hard to describe. I was reminded of Isaiah 55:12: “For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” I certainly had a joyful and peaceful vacation in Ketchikan.
By September, I was having some breathing issues and heart palpitations. I went to the doctor and, after a lot of testing, discovered I have some heart issues. The doctor told me it can’t be reversed.
In November I finally received my diploma! Another high. It now hangs in my office just above my computer.
Finally, I’m now struggling with a bacterial infection and working from home. That was a turn I didn’t see coming.
If anything, this year has taught me that life isn’t a straight, level path. There are never-ending mountains to be climbed and valleys to wander through. There are great moments and there are great disappointments. But that’s okay. We know life isn’t necessarily going to be easy. I think of Job. Here was a man who was “blameless and upright,” a man who feared God and “shunned evil.” (Job 1:8) And yet, all of his children and possessions were taken from him. His health was attacked. In all of it, “Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:22) In the end, Job was given twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10)
Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that “there is a time for everything … [A] time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (3:1-4). There will always be mountains and valleys. Ups and downs. Twists and turns.
In addition, Jesus told us, as Christians, to expect to have trials. If people hated him, wouldn’t they hate his followers? “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” But He also told us to take heart: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
From the mountains of Alaska, to the valley of the shadow of heart disease, 2021 has been a wild ride. I don’t know what 2022 will hold, but I’m not afraid.
So, that’s what I’ve learned in 2021 and will take with me into 2022. Take heart! No matter what happens, Jesus has overcome.