It’s the last day of the year and I’m not sure how that happened. I’m not ready. I don’t have my lists made yet, my house is still dirty from Easter and I have a lot of weight to lose before tomorrow. Happens every year.
December 31st is always a hard day for me. Inevitably I look back over my year and think “what the heck did I do all year? What did I accomplish?”. This year it would look something like this…
• I ironed a shirt for my husband. Twice.
• I didn’t burn any of the dinners I made (all four turned out nicely, thank you).
• I drove every day and never got a ticket or wrecked my car. I should have, but I didn’t, so it still counts.
• I started going on walks every day (almost) with my husband. I’m an in-doorsy kind of girl so it’s pretty huge. Granted, after 30 minutes I act like I just ran a marathon, collapsing on the couch like the champion I am. But I walked, so it counts.
• Several plants survived a year in my house. My husband waters them, moves them into the sun or out of the sun, re-pots them, checks their soil and all that jazz. Whatever. I live here too, so it counts.
• I put up the Christmas tree and all the decorations without crying even once. Or drinking.
All in all, not a bad list compared to past years. But I think I’ll do it up different today. This year, I’m looking back at the year God had in my life.
He led me into the wilderness, where I couldn’t hear His voice. But in that place, His goodness showed up and revealed my unbelief. In my wilderness, He called me back to a place of prayer, but more than that…a place of believing that He hears and He moves when faith cries out to Him. In the wilderness, I found a longing to talk to Him in the secret place again. And to believe He wanted to hear my voice.
He led me into the wilderness to make me thirst again.
This year, God had me face the hatred in my heart. By allowing me the privilege of sitting with women who are fighting to come out of addiction, He showed me that I’m not all that different from them. As I watched them wrestle with their own shame I saw the destructive power of self-hatred and I recognized it. Because I’ve drunk from that same bottle most of my life.
He taught me that I can’t tell someone else they are worth loving if I can’t say it to myself.
He got me to stop. Stop moving so fast, stop being on my way to something else all the time. Because I watched Him stop while He walked among us. I watched as He was never too busy for the one in front of Him. I watched and I learned that the poor and the needy, the downcast and the sinners…He had time for them all.
He taught me that I can’t follow Him while I’m on my way to something else.
This year, God addressed my inability to tap dance my way to Him. I learned that deep down, I was a performer, trying to be good enough to earn His love and never quite convincing myself that I had danced well enough. Again I was faced with the unbelief that was hiding beneath every performance. He told me that everything is a matter of trust and if I don’t trust that He is not mad at me, that His love isn’t based on my performance, then I will never find rest.
This year, He helped me hang up my tap shoes.
He took me to the Middle East and opened my eyes. I saw the difference between what is uncomfortable, and what is truly hard. There, among so much of every kind of poverty, He taught me that He sends us to hard places because love softens everything. In the Middle East my heart expanded with gratitude for a community of people who loved well in a hard place.
This year, God showed me that His blood is enough, His grace is sufficient, and His glory is worth it.
He talked about idols this year. My idol of fear to be precise. Through the story of three men who met with a furnace because they refused to bow, He taught me that the real idol is the fear of what will happen when I refuse to bow. Fear, not the desire for some other god, compels me to bow to the things that want my heart. And the words “God will deliver me” will not bring down that idol no matter how many times I say it.
This year I learned the language for bringing down the idol of fear. Even if. Those are the words of a heart that refuses to bow no matter the cost. I don’t know that I am all the way there yet. Maybe a year isn’t enough to shake that idol down. But I’m trying. Maybe in this next year, my voice won’t break when I say the words…
Even if He does not deliver me, I will not bow.
He showed me it can be well with my soul even when the road bends and my ‘someday’ dreams haven’t come true. He gave me prayers for friends, the ones buckling under the weight of depression and those who are fighting the narrow places. And then He took me back to in the beginning because the liar kept speaking nothing to me and He had enough of that. In the beginning He reminded my heart that He made everything out of nothing.
When I sat down here in front of a blank page, all I could think was “what changed this year?”, and I honestly couldn’t think of anything. Maybe because I was trying to figure out what great things I had done with this year, what changes I had made, or what I had accomplished. My only answer to that is “not much, really”.