2016 was an interesting year. On the one hand, Ali will tell you it was one of the hardest years of her life, and I could probably say the same. On the other hand, for me personally, it felt like what this picture looks like. Storms all around, but mostly moments of clarity (and that is perhaps ironic if you know where my location is in this screenshot).
The year began with us sharing a large house with our best couple friends, a teenage girl for whom the wife was a legal guardian, and the son of one of the elders at our church.
It is ending with us in the same house, but only still living with half of the couple.
2016 started off innocently enough. But then, my friend’s dad died in late January, and when he got back from Tennessee, he and his wife began fighting off and on for several months for the rest of the spring. Early May, we had to ask the teenage girl to leave for violating the lease, and then the wife left suddenly the following week and hasn’t been back. That began the summer. It ended with us having to ask the elder’s son to leave for reasons that need not be explained.
We also left the church after several years of sitting under poor preaching and watching leadership failures abound. We had poured out hearts out there for a few years, but despite being verbally appreciated late in the game, had never felt particularly valued (because we weren’t).
We also found out that Ali’s Panera was closing in early 2017, and their idea of a new job for her was one involving more hours and even more stress than she had been dealing with for the past 5 years. She had already decided to put in her notice and so they never formally made the offer.
So, moving into 2017, Ali’s job is ending, we’re living with my friend who has a mostly ended marriage but we’re not sure because his wife, who was Ali’s former best friend, doesn’t communicate and hasn’t served papers, and we’re short a roommate and looking for a church.
At the same time, God has been very faithful. We were able to have the closest thing to a vacation in our now 7 year marriage. It came right before we went through the roughest summer we’ve ever had. And it was also the catalyst that led to us sensing the timing of God’s call to begin raising support for more permanently working in student and college ministry. And now it’s also why we’re not particularly freaked out that Ali’s having to downgrade to a part time job.
2016 was basically a storm, but we’ve honestly been shielded from the brunt of it. Things could have been much worse, even as Ali had a much rougher time than I did. Many of the storms primarily affected other people very close to us and only secondarily ourselves. Yet there was still a significant amount of trauma, and mostly in our own home. As we look forward to 2017, I’m ready to focus on getting healthier in mind, body, and spirit, and preparing for long term commitments to ministry in Orlando. Ali would say the same. Because of that, I don’t imagine this will be the last year of storms. At the same time, I’m glad it’s over and am looking forward to what God has in store for us next year. We have much to be grateful for, but one thing is that 2016 is over.