So about this time one year ago I wrote a post summing up my year. It was a look at the Giovagnoni family, raw and unfiltered. That unconventional approach to a Christmas letter seemed to resonate with some people, so here we go again.
First things first. Big things in 2014 …
Cara started ballet.
We went to DC for the 4th of July.
We celebrated Mom’s 65th birthday reunion-style.
Chris and I took a 5th anniversary trip to Kauai.
Tyce started pre-preschool.
There you go. If you want the pretty stuff, you should stop reading now.
Because here’s the stuff that never makes it in the Christmas letter.
Both dogs are dying – one has a brain tumor and one has a tumor on her liver. So we’ve basically become a hospice for our dogs. I spend my time bouncing back and forth between wishing it would end quickly and dreading the end.
I started seeing a counselor which has been simultaneously helpful, incredibly eye-opening and really, really difficult. The more I learn about myself, the more I see how much I need to grow.
We are still dealing on a daily basis with depression, rage, stress, anxiety, fear, grief and lots of hurt and pain.
If I were writing the Christmas letter, I’d end it with something like “Through everything, God has been faithful and He’s the reason we celebrate this Christmas.” But to be honest, God’s presence hasn’t really been very real to me this year. And this year I’ve come to realize that one of my biggest problems with God is that He never shows up when I think he’s “supposed” to.
Like when I was 8 and said “THE” prayer and then waited for God to show up and change my life. And nothing changed. And I felt wholly ignored by God.
And when I was 15, at our youth group Fall Retreat at Frontier Ranch, and everyone seemed to be having this super spiritual moment, crying at the altar on their knees, surrendering the entirety of their decade and a half of life, and I felt distant and detached. So I mastered the art of faking it. Fake tears. Fake surrender. Fake intimacy with God.
And then there was college, where I continued to grow in my fake spiritual walk. But all the time inside I felt a deep and abiding disappointment with God. I felt let down that those four years weren’t the “best time of my life.” That I hadn’t met the man I’d marry as I’d always assumed I would. (Why else choose a Christian college, right?)
After college I moved home, got a job, moved out on my own, became an accomplished single woman with a good career and a busy social life. And I was happy. Mostly. But deep down I was still disappointed by God.
It wasn’t until 2008 and a man named Chris walked into my life, turned my world upside down, and started deconstructing this happy little fake life I’d created for myself, that I began to realize something big was missing. I saw in Chris a man walking with God that was nothing like I’d ever seen before. He wasn’t the typical Christian I’d always known, saying Christian-y things like “Yes, life is hard, but God is good.” He said stuff like “I’m furiously angry with God. I feel like He’s left me to figure this life out on my own. But He’s strong enough to handle my anger and I know He loves me anyway.”
That’s the thing about Chris. He never, ever fakes it. So different than me. I’m not surprised that God chose to use a man like this to open my eyes to the cardboard faith I’d constructed. To help me see that all along I’ve been faking this heart connection with God because it’s what I thought I was supposed to do.
That takes me to today, December 23, 2014.
35 years of thinking faith in God was one thing. A year of having that false front dismantled and revealed for what it actually is – me pretending to know God.
Well I have an announcement to make. I’m done pretending.
I don’t have any idea what’s going to be built in it’s place, but it will be real. It will be solid. It will be strong. I’m sick of pretending. I want to know what actually knowing God is like.
So bring it on, 2015. They say growth comes from pain, so if that’s true, then this next year is bound to be one for the books.