Year-End Confessions: Back from the Ashes

 

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(c) April Kelsey

Hello, Dear Readers.

As you can probably tell from the (in)frequency of my posting, 2016 has been a tough year, and I’ve been fairly quiet about it. I thought it was time to let you know what I’ve been up to and what has changed for me.

I started 2016 in the grip of grief. I had recently said goodbye to someone who meant a great deal to me, and there was no getting over it quickly. I don’t think I’ve ever grieved so long or so hard. Basically, I cried off and on from January to August. I was also diagnosed with a deformed vertebrae in my lower back and spent most of the summer in physical therapy. My mother-in-law lived with me from May to October to help with my kids.

Then, in July, I took a sabbatical and visited my brother in Italy. It was my first trip to Europe, and it was spectacular! I saw Naples, Paris, Venice, Florence and Bologna, snorkeled in the Mediterranean, and ate the best food of my life.

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(c) April Kelsey

I also broke my left elbow on a Segway tour on my first evening in Paris. I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance by a handsome Frenchman named Sebastian. And thus began the linguistic adventure of trying to recall my high school French under the duress of mind-numbing pain. (Thankfully, nearly everyone there spoke English.)

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About 20 minutes before I broke my elbow.

I returned home and realized my marriage was in dire straits. Years of stress had taken their toll, and, suddenly, we were talking about separating. We decided to give counseling a shot. I took another blogging break from September to November to focus on my marriage and family. And here is where I FINALLY turned a corner. I realized I had spent nearly all of our marriage NOT BEING MYSELF and constantly seeking my husband’s affirmation and approval. I decided to stop it and just do what I wanted to do. I chose the décor for the house that I wanted. I bought the clothes I liked best. I brought home the flavor of ice cream I wanted to eat. And, amazingly, it worked! Hubby was glad to see me making decisions on my own and doing what I liked.

We’re much better now. 🙂

However, coming to terms with myself also meant facing some life choices I had been putting off for a while. One of those has been leaving evangelicalism. I had stayed with it because friends and others had convinced me that I should stay and try to affect change from the inside. But after Trump was elected president by 81% of white evangelicals, I knew I couldn’t stay. My heart was broken.

So I made a very bold move: I visited the local Unitarian Universalist church. And I loved it. I don’t know if that will be my permanent church home, but it’s the right place for me right now. I visited for the second time last week, and I felt so much joy–the kind of joy I haven’t felt for a very long time. Maybe never.

I made the move official by resigning my last volunteer position at my old church: the nursery. I’ve been there for so long, I’ve seen three groups of babies graduate to the toddler class. I’m going to miss them, but I know I’m being called to another path–and I’m totally at peace with that.

My job is changing, too. At the nonprofit where I work, a beloved colleague, our Director of Communications, resigned earlier this month. As I am the only skilled writer left in the building, I’m taking on many aspects of her job. This is exactly what I’ve wanted to do since I was hired there nearly four years ago. I’m going to be much busier, but it should be fun. I’m working on the newsletter, the website, and writing a department manual.

As far as the blog goes, I still intend to be here, occasionally plugging away. I was supposed to have a post published earlier this year by The Junia Project, but I think it got lost in the editor’s inbox. I’ll see if I can resurrect it for 2017. I also have plans to blog about abusers’ theology and guarding your heart (Hint: it has almost nothing to do with dating).

So, yes, 2016 nearly crushed the life out of me, but I pulled through to find a whole new level of wholeness, confidence and joy. The dark night is over and God is still at work. I send my thanks to everyone who prayed for me this year. There were several times I felt those prayers holding me up when nothing else was, and I am eternally grateful.

What’s next? I don’t know. I’m still waiting–and resting. Finally, FINALLY resting. When God decides to speak, I’ll be listening.

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(c) April Kelsey

 

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8 responses to “Year-End Confessions: Back from the Ashes

  1. Oh! Sweet, dear April! I have barely gotten to know a glimpse of you via your blog — and I better understand now why I resonate so deeply with your words. Thank you for caring for yourself this year, for guarding your heart and treasuring what’s most important in your life. I am grateful for you and your multifaceted, thought-provoking approach to life.

    Hugs…Healing hugs.
    Will pray with/for you as God brings you to mind during your continued journey of listening and stepping closer to Him.

  2. I was so happy to read your post from the other day. I am so glad you are caring for yourself and you are starting to turn the corner and thrive. Please take care and write when you can – you are an encouragement!

  3. I certainly understand how grief can knock you off of your feet. My husband died in the summer of 2013, and it wasn’t until this year that I was finally feeling free to be myself and move forward in life. We realize life is going to be filled with ups and downs, but even in the low points, we need to shine our lights – to help others along the way. Thanks for sharing.

  4. You know … a lot of people seem to have had a really rough time of it this year. I’m sorry to hear that included you, but glad to hear that the end of the year has brought some positive turns for you.

  5. Thanks for sharing your struggles of the past year, April. You went through a lot of tough things, but I’m glad to hear that things are going better now.

  6. I don’t comment a lot, but I read and appreciate your blog very much. Happy to hear you’re taking care of your self and being true to yourself, and for what it’s worth, my prayers are with you. Happy new year!

  7. Hi April. God bless you. You know I am long winded and can say many strange things. I will avoid that and just leave you with two music videos. A person who has studied English literature like you will understand them and how they apply to what you just wrote above. Here they are:

    I wish you the very best!!!

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