Looking Back, Looking Forward
When I chose my word for 2012, I had no idea how that year would end for me, and how devastated I would be going into 2013. Needless to say, I made no resolutions at the stroke of midnight last January 1, other than to just stay alive.
Now, today, as we close in on the end of this year, I feel like it’s time. I’m not just surviving any more. I am, thankfully, gratefully, alive and well. (Mostly.) I’m not on the brink anymore, I’m not staring into a black hole of despair that threatens to suck me in. I’m still walking around and driving to the store and going to bed at night with my least-favorite-companion, grief, but I’m used to her and she keeps her mouth shut most of the time. She’s there, I think she may always be there, but she’s fairly polite, and we co-exist (mostly) without conflict.
Am I ready, then, to grow? To resolve, to set out on an adventure, to make big changes, to become something new and different?
I feel like I am.
But I’m afraid I am not.
I’m afraid to venture out too far. I’m afraid of falling flat on my face. I’m afraid of tumbling into that black hole. I’m afraid of getting too cocky and having that bitch grief knock my off my high horse.
(I am… in case you couldn’t tell… a little neurotic.)
So where was I? Yes, my one word for 2012 was NOW. And I feel like, looking back, that it was a good word. It was the right word. Because I did live, very much, in the present. I made some deliberate choices to make my life better and happier, and most of those choices had to do with letting go of the things that kept me from enjoying the life I was living at that moment. I think a lot of women have this problem – we’re so consumed with everything else that still needs to be done, or so angry about everything that isn’t done yet or was done to us in the past, that we don’t even notice our surroundings or interact with our loved ones.
So I stopped punishing my husband for not living up to my expectations (spoiler alert: I had not lived up to HIS expectations, either, but he wasn’t reminding me of it every five minutes) and I let the laundry hang out in the dryer and get wrinkly, and I forgave myself for making lots of frozen pizza and burgers instead of home-cooked, perfectly nutritious meals, and I sat down and watched TV with my family, and I read books, and I watched Garrett blow bubbles and play football in the front yard, and I generally just really enjoyed life.
And as a result, in November of 2012, I was happy. I was really, REALLY happy. I felt like life was just about as good as it could get. And when the terrible, unthinkable, awful happened, I was as ready for it as I possibly could be. No, you’re never really ready for something like that, but if it’s going to happen, it should happen when your marriage is strong, when you are full of joy and feel good about yourself in every possible way. Otherwise, that deep black hole of grief really WILL swallow you (and everyone around you) whole.
The moral of this story is that sometimes we make just the right New Year’s Resolution. Sometimes God prepares us from the things He can’t, or won’t, save us from. Sometimes we find ourselves with just the right tools for the situation we’re in. Sometimes, thankfully, we’re up a creek WITH a paddle. We may not realize it at the time – we may think, “Dear God, why is THIS happening to me? Why do you hate me?” – but as time goes by, we may begin to see the hand of God, the hand of a good and loving God, at work in our lives.
(This doesn’t mean we understand everything that God is doing… just that we know He’s still there. And He’s still making Himself useful.)
So what’s my word for 2014? I don’t know. I just know that I am looking forward to this New Year. Not because I think it will be without challenges (though, let’s be honest, I feel like I’ve paid my dues in bad karma for awhile, ‘kay?) but because I think that if I listen closely enough, I’ll hear whispers of what I need to learn and know and be and do to get ready for the challenges ahead.