A year ago

Lately, I have been thinking quite a bit about where things were in my family a year ago. It was a desperately difficult time, filled with daily grief and anguish over the hospitalization of one of our children who was in a very bad state. My wife and I were driving each day to and from the hospital that was about an hour away for short in-person visits — all that were allowed — and also focused on twice a day phone calls with our child. We could not focus on anything else. All that we could manage was just trying to help our children and ourselves get through each day.

People rightly claim that the pandemic has made this year especially bad, but for myself and my family, the pandemic was just the added bit on top of multiple other, potentially life-changing difficulties. We have hurt from the pandemic like everyone else, but it was only an added layer of hurt. In many ways, this long, slow-moving crisis of our own family relationships and life together has significantly changed over the past several months. In other ways, we have a long way still to go. However, I count my blessings as I think about a year ago. Our child is still with us, and we are slowly making progress in our relationships together in order to support and lift each other up.

Also about a year ago, I began counseling every week. I am in a different place now than I was back then. Everything isn’t fixed, and there are many things that still cause me to struggle. However, I have stuck with the counseling, and believe it has been beneficial for me and then in turn, for my wife and children, as I work on changing and growing out of many difficult patterns of thought and practice. I am not yet at a place where I’m ready to be done, meaning, that I have achieved everything I want to achieve. But my toughest critics, my own family, tell me they see improvement, so that is encouraging.

Last year, I withdrew from my Master’s program due to all that was happening in my personal life. In the last few days, I learned that my application for readmittance was approved and although I may really regret it, I am ready to register for the Spring 2021 semester. It’s about getting back up again after being knocked down, or at least, trying to. And in about a month, I will also be teaching another graduate course. The class is so full that there is a waiting list. This is the class I first taught in January of this year, and found it extremely difficult. I hope the second time I teach it, I will redeem myself a bit.

A year ago, my institution concluded a failed search for a new library leader, a job for which I decided not to apply because I did not think it was worth it and I also did not feel capable of handling the almost certain rejection. This year, I applied when the search was re-opened. The result was the same — rejection — and it is hard to bear. But at least it gives me a measure of clarity or certainty, and I am now, very tentatively, looking around for where else I might find a place that I would want to work and that actually wants me there.

So much figurative water has flowed under the bridge during the past year. We are far from being safe and sound from the pandemic, and the coming year is filled with a lot more uncertainty. However, it is comforting to know that God has brought us through the past year, and I am confident He will see us through whatever is to come next.

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