We’re about six weeks into 2020. Just far enough to move on from all the reflecting I did as I rang in the new year. Just far enough to start to get bogged down in the everyday demands of life. Just far enough to forget all the promises I made to myself as the new year began.
I have always enjoyed that time between Christmas and New Years. It’s kind of a no man’s land for me. I have time off from work. There is no where I have to be. I can sit, rest, and decompress. Then January comes and life seems full of possibilities. But by the time February rolls around, I find myself back to the grind at work, and I’m buried by all the demands that come with adulting. Before I know it May will be here, school will be out, I’ll take a week or two to breath, and then I’ll start preparing for a new school year. I’ll blink and another year will have passed.
I long for deep and genuine relationships with people and with God.
I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve said I want to go out to lunch with a girlfriend or I really should call….fill in the blank….and see how they’re doing. I think about friends I haven’t talked to in ages and wonder what they’re up to. But I’m plagued with inaction. I’m an expert at making excuses. And if I’m honest, I’m a bit lazy, hoping someone will reach out to me first.
Many people start the new year by making resolutions, or setting goals. Others choose a word to focus on for the year. I personally like the idea of choosing a word for the year. Resolutions and goals, for me, are just too easy to break, and then I beat myself up for not staying the course. I’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks kicking around words. Words that hold special meaning for me. I’ve tried to find a word that would both inspire me and guide me. A word that would drive me to be my best self.
Grace….Satisfied….Restored….are some of the words that have been marinating deep in my soul.
Grace is such a beautiful word. I have been shown such grace in my life by God and by others. But I have learned one of the most important things is to show grace to myself. I tend to be pretty hard on myself. Learning that I’m pretty a-ok just the way I am has been a journey.
Along the same lines is the word satisfied. I have been working and learning to accept myself just as I am. I am enough. I am satisfied with who I am. There is nothing more or less I could do to make God love me more. I don’t have to do anything extra.
Restored is the other word I’ve been thinking about. Restoration is a powerful thing. Taking something that is battered, scarred, and broken and making it like new is a miraculous thing. I’ve spent much of my adult life carrying scars from multiple traumas. I was letting those difficult and heartbreaking experiences define me. I have felt so blessed as I have worked to renew my mind and restore my heart.
I have come to realize that I get to choose what defines me.
These are all great words. There isn’t a bad one in the lot. But I’ve come to realize that as important as each of these words are for me, none of them are the right word as I venture into this new year.
I’m not naive. I know this coming year will still bring with it many stresses and experiences that I can’t even begin to contemplate right now. But my hope, when I come to the end of this year, is that my life will be fuller and richer because I choose to intentionally embrace this wonderful life I’ve been given.
What is something from 2019 that you are proud of?
I’ve seen several of my friends pose this question several times on Facebook over the last few days.
The first time I saw the question I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t think of one thing I would consider an accomplishment from this year and that made me profoundly sad. The only thing I could think of was, “I survived.”
I sit here as the year comes to a close feeling so battered and bruised. There was a part of me that wanted to leave the words, “I survived,” on the post, but I feared no one reading the words would really understand the magnitude and weight those words carry for me. I was afraid someone would think I was being flippantly funny, and if they responded with a funny comeback, it would have added another wound to the ones I carry.
I chose not to respond to my friend's post, but I have pondered the question posed by her and several others. This year was a hard year for me. There were no big personal tragedies. It was just a hard year with everyday stresses that at times have seemed totally overwhelming. If you are my friend on Facebook, or most of my acquaintances for that matter, you would have no idea that this has been an extremely difficult year to walk through.
The truth is that sometimes pictures and Facebook posts don’t tell the whole story.
A few days after seeing the question asking what I was proud of, I was scrolling through Facebook and the following words grabbed my attention: May the tears you cried in 2019 water the seeds you’re planting for 2020.
The words reached out and spoke to me. They gave me hope. Hope for tomorrow. Hope that although this chapter may have been bitter, disappointing, and downright painful, this is not where the story ends. Many chapters have yet to be written.
I’ve been thinking a lot the last couple of weeks about the word Hope. Way back at the beginning of 2019, I claimed the word Hope as my word for the year. I was going to hold on to it, let it encourage me. I thought I would have a year where Hope was fulfilled. I don’t know if Hope failed me or if I failed it, but I kept thinking that somewhere along the way I screwed up. I had this belief that a girl who chose to cling to Hope ...well, her life would look very different then mine does right now.
And then Sunday...Sunday at church they shared this scripture...
“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: GOD ’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with GOD (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.”
I’m not sure who else those words were meant for in church, but I know they were meant for me. It was like all the wondering I’ve done was answered in those verses. Even though I’ve been down and sad and overwhelmed, God has gone nowhere and he’s not going to go anywhere. He is my Hope, my eternal, everlasting, never ending Hope.
I shared some of this post with a friend earlier this week as I was processing my thoughts. She asked me to think about something… Of all the ways you could answer the question, “What is something from 2019 that you are proud of?” can you think of any better answer than, “I survived.”
“You made it. You’re here. You survived and persevered… There is no better answer.”
So my friends, I survived 2019.
I have chosen to share these thoughts and be vulnerable because I realize that I’m not the only one for whom 2019 may have been a difficult year. If that’s you, I pray that my words may encourage you. If you’re struggling and wondering what your purpose is, I won’t profess to have all the answers, but I want to remind you that our God is real, his promises are true, and in Him we can find our source of hope.