2019 was a mess.
I’ve read and re-read my journal entries for the year, amazed at the messes, encouraged by the forward motion in spite of. Last year’s blog post around this time reflected my broken, angry heart. This year, I’m resting in the knowledge that my frail attempts at fixing things is laughable at best and God is patiently waiting for me to take my hands off situations and let Him work.
I’ve made a habit of prayerfully considering an attribute to shoot for, a word to measure my personal and spiritual growth each year. 2019’s word was ‘hope’.
Boy, did I ever need it. My weak and selfish humanity did not have the strength to trot the addict in my life off to another couple of rehabs; nor did it have the strength to list and sell a house, then pack and arrange a huge move. It didn’t have the strength to nurse-maid a husband’s recovery from shoulder surgery, nor did it have the wisdom to help a daughter navigate through a tragic miscarriage, another scary pregnancy and a brain injury when her baby was born. It didn’t particularly enjoy the heart-wrenching disappointment of losing a publishing contract after two years of fighting for one because the publisher decided to close its doors, or the dark discouragement that followed.
It was not a year I wanted to showcase on Facebook, where life seems grand all the time. In truth, we all struggle with individual battles and hole up in our “emotionally unavailable” closets from time to time.
God never promises us a life without messes. He did however, promise to be with us through them, and use them to help us grow in grace, perseverance, patience, gentleness and kindness if we seek Him with a mind to ask for help. As I’ve looked back over the years, my life is messy but it is also full of fabulous milestones. Milestones that I couldn’t have accomplished in my own strength. As I whined about the messes and asked him for help, God gave me His strength for my weakness, His mercy for my harshness, His perseverance for my longing to give up, His forgiveness for others who had offended me when I had no idea how to forgive.
I am so thrilled to report that in spite of my attempts to ‘fix’ things in 2019, the addict in my life is out of rehab, on the road to real recovery. Though nervous about it, my husband and I moved into a new home that has turned out to be a bigger blessing than we could’ve ever imagined, my daughter’s baby miraculously recovered and at this point is happy, healthy and perfect, and my husband’s shoulder is healing nicely. These are big ‘wins’ for sure, but the milestones (actions or events marking significant changes or stages in development) they represent are even bigger. Milestones of increased faith, which means less hand-wringing and more trust. Milestones of less self-effort and paying more attention to God’s signposts along the way. Milestones of less anxiety and hopelessness. More reliance on the truth of God’s awesome promises and less reliance on voices shouting at us to be more, buy more, do more. 2019 was a year of big messes, but fortunately, the bigger the mess, the bigger the milestone. He promises to uses everything (even the failures) for good in our lives, and I believe it.
This year my word is ‘authentic’. A meaning of this word I like is “not false or copied genuine; real. Representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself.” I want to avoid the exhausting task of trying to be the person that everyone else needs or wants me to be. My goal for 2020 is to care more what God requires of me than about what people expect of me.
Should be quite messy.
I sense a bunch more milestones coming up!