Thinking about all that he has endured has certainly made me overwhelmed. I have been a part of it and I have had my own experiences added on to it. Somehow, only through the grace of God, I have been able to continue to stand and walk. There have been many times during 2011 that I have felt as if I were above myself, looking down, and observing what is taking place. It has felt like an out-of-body experience.
The Gibsons added a third child to our clan in 2011, just three months after my mom died. After 5 grandsons for my in-laws, they got a granddaughter, and then another one a week later when my sister-in-law had a little girl. My oldest turned 5 this year, my middle child turned 3. The oldest had his share of medical issues as we took three trips to the Emergency Room within a 3 week period. Overall, they endured pretty well, despite the many curveballs thrown into their life this past year.
My wife was a champion. Thanks to the help of friends and family, we were provided for in the midst of the tumultuous times in which we found ourselves. All we have been longing for over the last few years is a vacation. We have taken time here and there to visit family, but we have not really had a family vacation since before our children were born. One day, we will have a glorious family vacation, we’re hoping Spring 2013 when I finally graduate from seminary.
As I have surveyed the past year, I found myself bemused at the wisdom and experience that I have gained. I began to wonder what it would have been like 20 years ago if I knew then what I know now. Somehow, I sailed through college with just average grades. I didn’t work as hard as I could/should have, yet I didn’t fail anything. Now, I find myself in seminary and I am obsessively working to accomplish all that is before me.
How is it that when I was in college and younger, with no wife, no children, no permanent job, no house, no major bills, and no aging parents, that I couldn't get good grades and now that I have all of those things, I somehow manage to do very well? While some of it has to do with responsibility and time management, I can only attribute it to the power of God in me and the power of the prayers lifted up on my behalf.
There is no loss of love between me and 2011. I have never been one to moan about the past year while looking towards the year to come, but this year may be an exception. While I don’t expect life to be simple and easy, I certainly don’t expect that many years will replicate 2011, and for that I am grateful. Coming through the fog and smoke that is left by the storms and fires of 2011 has made me stronger and wiser. While I have endured much, there are plenty of others who endure much more every day.
There are hardly words to describe just what my wife has had to face this past year. She suffered loss when my mom died as well. My mother was always thrilled to have both my wife and my brother’s wife as “daughters” even though they were not her own flesh and blood. My wife’s empathy was apparent in the midst of my own grief. She showed her resolve as she gave birth to our third child through natural child birth, causing me to be thankful that I have not had to endure all that she has in giving birth 3 times.
My wife has supported me, cried with me, prayed for me, and loved me through it all. She has not complained. She has not been unreasonable. She has simply loved in a way that has shown me, our children, and the world that she is fueled by something greater within her. I love her and am thankful for the gift that I have in her.
There are words and gestures that I would like to say and to give to 2011 as it rolls away in the horizon of my rearview mirror, but I won’t. I will simply look ahead at what is in store for the future. God has been faithful, he has not left me or abandoned me. In my weakness, he has been strong. May 2012 be a year full of opportunities which I seize, opportunities that shape and mold me to be who I need to be in Christ. My only wish and hope is that they are not as painful as those of 2011.