2020: I Can See Clearly Now

Happy New Year!

Flashback.

December 31, 1999, 11:55 p.m., stiff chair, home office:

Picture me in front of my Gateway computer, watching the digital clock tick off the minutes. I was alone and anxious. At midnight, the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem would either occur or not. If the experts were correct, my computer, their computers, the entire world’s computer systems would fail.

An event like that would be disastrous for me. You see, up to and including that very moment, 1999 had been a disturbing year:

  • In January, my husband came home for lunch one day. He let me know he did not want to be married to me anymore. 
  • He left, but half of the “marriage debt” that we legally shared did not. I had been a stay-at-home-wife/mom. Now I was on my own with a 10-year-old son and a typing service with two clients. Rent, food, utilities, and the debt from the marriage — there was more money due than I had coming in. Thank God for child support laws.
  • I gave my typing service an overhaul and called it a secretarial and design business. I worked brutal hours to get it established and gained a good stable of clients. Transcription, graphics, resumes, spreadsheets — without a working computer, I would not have a business. 
  • In November, my mother died of cancer at the age of 68.

And there I was, New Year’s Eve 1999, staring at my computer, after a year like no other, and with the world on the edge of sci-fi-esque destruction simply because a coder didn’t think about a new millennium.

Fast forward. 

December 31, 2019, 11:00 p.m., comfortable sofa, living room:

I am typing on a MacBook Air, which is pretty much the size of my old Gateway’s keyboard with about a million times the power. Twenty years have zipped by:

  • Today we laugh about Y2K.
  • I did not remarry. In the early days of the divorce, I felt that, as a woman, I was deficient in every way. After a pitiful time of trying to convince myself otherwise, I prayed that God would help me to remember who I was in His eyes. He did. That was the beginning of my total satisfaction with being a God-dependent woman. I think men are wonderful, but having time and space all to myself is a gift — definitely not for everyone, but it has been God’s plan for me. 
  • (Side Note: Recently, a co-worker asked me if I had a boyfriend. “No, I don’t. I haven’t had a boyfriend since I met my ex-husband forty years ago.” I gave her my divorce details and ended with this summary: “You really can enjoy the company of men without sleeping with them.” I don’t know if the women who were listening bought into that bit of wisdom, but they all nodded their heads — thoughtfully, at least from what I could tell. Perhaps a little shocked? I laugh when I think of that conversation.)
  • When my son began high school, I retired my business and took on jobs as an administrative assistant. For over a decade, I have enjoyed a steady income and — hallelujah! — company-paid medical insurance. Self-employment is fulfilling, but it is tough to keep your finances in the black when you live in an expensive town and don’t have a second income for the household to enjoy. 

Through it all is God. Present, knowing, unchanging, loving, and forgiving. God carried me and set me down in perfect places, though many of those places would not have been my choices. When I think back on these 20 years of heartbreak, joy, and everything in between, I can see clearly — with a spiritual 2020 vision — that God was, is, and always will be in control of my life, allowing and withholding in ways that He sees best for His purposes, His glory, and my good.

Writing stories, serving my employer, suffering through illnesses, laughing with family, watching loved ones die, or celebrating in a friend’s joy: I want to see and do all of life through God’s eyes, and with the clarity that these past 20 years of His faithfulness give to me.

What is your 2020 vision, goal, focus, hope?

The beautiful art in the photo was created by Cassandria Blackmore, my glass-shattering friend. Visit her website to see more of her awesome work.

“Your Blog Helps Me” — A Precious Message From a Reader

From July 2018:

“Hi, Darla —

Just wanted to say hi and say I’ve missed reading your blog. Or rather to ask if you have not been writing it. I rarely comment, but I love your writing and subject matters. I especially loved the post about your hero, your brother. It moved me (I keep it to re-read occasionally). I had an awful childhood, lousy youth, life-threatening automobile accident at 21 that changed my life, tried to commit suicide, and then was saved. Had a wonderful 36 years with my wonderful husband and suddenly lost him to multiple myeloma and horrible doctor care. Then I crashed and 16 years later I’m trying not to waste what little time I have left. Your blog helps me. Anyway, hope you are doing well and enjoying life.

All the best,
[Reader’s Name]”

Your blog helps me.” I responded right away to her message. I told her that, after a time of focusing on other things and having website technical issues finally solved, I was planning to return soon to sharing my stories. Inspired by her words, I looked towards 2019 with a sparkle in my eye.

December 2018 was a good month. The printed, first draft of a novel was in my hands. My 2019 list of goals was long, organized, and exciting. It was time to get my writing life restarted. On January 1, 2019, I posted an adorable photo of my nephew, which I hoped would inspire all of us for the new year.

Before the end of that month, though, news arrived that put a stop to everything I had planned. I felt like a deflated balloon and lost all desire to create. Writing stories and blogging moved over to my “Maybe Someday” list.

But here we are now, close to the end of the year. The January shock has turned into a gift of greater faith. One day I might share that story. For now, my plan is to return to storywriting in 2020, knowing absolutely that my words may help someone.

Two days after Thanksgiving, I tracked down and reread that email from July 2018. Her words struck me this time in a familiar and more powerful way.

I hit “Reply” and typed a message to let her know I had not forgotten her words, and that I was on my way back to sharing stories.

My message returned with a reply: “The email account that you tried to reach does not exist.”

I double-checked the email address. No, I had not made a mistake.

And so:

Dear Friend:

If you see this post, please know that I treasure your message. I hope that you are still checking my blog now and then, and find that I have returned to writing. I feel honored to know that my stories helped you through your life challenges. Though 2019 was a particularly troublesome year for me, I am confident that God will help both of us to move forward in whatever it is that He wants us to accomplish in 2020.

Sincerely,

Darla