As is my personal tradition, I have chosen my word for the new year: snowball. In hindsight, perhaps “personal” is the wrong word as I am sure by now you have seen social media flooded with these types of posts over the past week. Regardless, I am going with snowball.
As a noun, it is a round object made entirely of compressed snow that can be launched at unexpecting pedestrians for a momentary jolt of joy (for you, not them). As a verb, it has an almost negative connotation, where a problem starts out small and manageable. But as time goes, the problem gains momentum along with mass, pummeling anything in its path and to where it is such a monstrosity that no one can contain it.
For my purposes, we will go with the former definition and throw in the word Africa or any other country where its proximity to the equator has rendered its winter seasons completely void of snowballs.
The concept comes full circle for me when I thought about where I was a year ago:
- In May of 2015, my ex-wife informed me she met someone else and wanted a divorce. The following 6 months, we went through marriage retreats, prayer ministry, therapy and multiple attempts to reconcile. January of 2016, she filed.
- I was battling feelings of worthlessness and I felt like a failure to my kids. Anxiety attacks wreaked havoc on my body.
- In the midst of all that, I watched my mom die on my birthday. Felt like salt on a wound. We didn’t have the best of relationships to begin with due to her alcoholism and now she was gone. There was no closure.
So the beginning of this past year was a very tough time for me. I likened it to a boat who got lost at sea, and 2016 was going be my journey back to the shore. I had a friend, who happens to be a pastor, tell me something I didn’t believe at the time:
“I will weep with you now, but I will also celebrate with you later. It just takes time.”
I couldn’t imagine feeling excitement again. Sure there would be the kids’ birthday parties, and moments. But real celebrations for me? Not a chance. I was doomed.
That feeling is like trying to explain a snowball to someone in Africa who has never felt the coldness nip at their fingers or heard the sound of crunching underfoot. The concept was too foreign.
Only now, it is 2017. I went and felt the snow, laid down on my back and made angels in it. Flung it at unexpecting pedestrians:
- Now, a year and a half later, I am a relationship with an extraordinary woman of God (with an impossible smile. Go ahead, look her up on Facebook).
- She is a constant stream of encouragement and has made me feel like I am “enough”.
- My kids and I have started our own traditions and the visitation schedule turned out to be not so bad. I still see them most nights for dinner, go to church with them every Wednesday and Sunday, and usually every other weekend.
- I have honestly worked out more in the past year than I have in my entire life.
- I have been hiking, camping, to concerts, and just enjoyed life.
- I have eaten octopus. Won’t ever do it again, but it’s worth noting.
- I am constantly being told that I seem like a completely different person than I was a year ago.
- Ultimately, I have grown closer to God and pretty much start to cry any time I think about how good has been to me. How He never left, sustained me through it all. Indeed, what the enemy meant for my own destruction, God meant for blessing.
Now I want to go back to Africa. I want to go those who are struggling with depression, anxiety, broken relationships and share in their suffering, so I can elate in the joy that waits for them around the corner. I want to tell them that their current condition does not dictate the value of their worth and sustenance of their life.
So this year, I am going to be intentional and take all the worst of my life’s experiences and build a platform to preach the gospel of hope in Christ.
In 2017, I am going to throw snowballs at people.