Looking back and looking forward (2017)

I’ve written a New Years’ post every year for the past four years, and even though I don’t feel like I have much to say this quiet first night of 2018, it feels like I should continue the tradition. It was fun to read back through them. (Fun is maybe the wrong word…also strangely sad…or sweet…or something that puts a lump in your throat without making you want to really cry…I don’t always know what that emotion is called.)

In any case, new years day no longer feels as declarative as it once did. I’ve learned that things rarely end abruptly on December 31. They rarely start promptly on January 1. So, I didn’t worry about exercising today. I didn’t worry about the fact that I ate popcorn at a movie that I’d already seen. I didn’t worry that I ordered a Coke in an attempt to stay awake but then slept through the middle of the movie (just like I have countless times before). I’m still pretty much the same in 2018 as I’ve always been, and I decided not to pressure today into being defiantly different.

Here's a blurry pic of the roomies and me freezing cold while watching neighborhood fireworks on our perfectly-non-defiantly-different New Years' Eve!

Here’s a blurry pic of the roomies and me freezing cold while watching neighborhood fireworks on our perfectly-non-defiantly-different New Years’ Eve!

Maybe one of the most interesting things about being single is that the world hasn’t marked the milestones you’ve crossed. No “year we met” or “year of the wedding.” No “baby’s first Christmas” or “first NYE as a family of four.” But years are still worth marking. Because they hold moments that mark us even if the world doesn’t pause to commemorate them.

God sees them–marks every mundane or monumental moment with a fingerprint that makes us look a little more like Him if we’ll let Him. He’ll use the boredom and the wishing and the wanting and the waiting. He’ll use the shifting relationships and the unclear expectations and the sometimes ill-fitting roles to soften up our edges and gently (or not) sift out our imperfections. He’ll use those awkward times when we aren’t sure what to do. He’ll use the minor irritations and the various disappointments, the major accomplishments and the quiet joys.

There have been all of those moments this year. I haven’t really stilled to notice them. I haven’t sought God in the midst of them the way I wish I would. But somehow, He keeps showing up. I catch myself thinking, Lord, I don’t know if you’re even here. But He is. And I do know it. And as I sit here alone in the quiet, I’m not surprised by His company even though I haven’t sought it out as much as I should have.

I don’t know if this year’s moments could be strung together in any deep or meaningful way, but I’m grateful that I don’t feel a bunch of pressure to figure it out.  

There is hope and comfort in the fact that He’s faithful and real, not waiting for my faith to prop Him up on some man-made pedestal, but inviting me to look up and see a God so much bigger than any I could construct.

Lindsee read Psalm 131 to me yesterday, and it’s been rumbling around in my head all day today, a kind of prayer or hope or desire for 2018…

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
    my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
    too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
    from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 131:1-3)

I like the way it says this part in the Message too: “I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans. I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart” (Psalm 131:1b-2a).

psalm 131.png

I want to keep my feet on the ground. I want to keep my eyes fixed firmly on God’s greatness, on His glory and His power and His might. But I want my feet right here in my own slice of reality, eyes on Jesus, hands on my own work, not meddling in things where I have no business. I want my heart calm and quiet in the love of the Lord. I want my hope sure in Him.

I looked into what it means to be a weaned child. Basically, nursing babies are prone to impatience and restlessness, seeking for milk, always wanting for more. Weaned babies are content to rest against their mother without demanding what she has to offer. I want that this year. I want to be content to rest against my Father’s heart without impatiently pushing my desires. I want to trust my needs will be met without demanding they be met on my own terms. I want to trust His timing. I want to relax in His presence without demanding His gifts.

Because He will give them. A good Father always does. And I will still ask for them because my Father invites me to. But I want trust to define our relationship more than demand does. I want to be known as a daughter resting content rather than one whining about her wants.

He is faithful. He is good. Every good and perfect gift is from Him, and I want all that He has for me. Contentment isn’t complacency. But straining for control also isn’t contentment.

Maybe this year will be the year of more weaning than whining. Maybe this first evening of rest will usher in a season of it–of action and motion and hopes and dreams but of peace, too. And joy. And trust. And a heart the relaxes in the sure, firm, perfect embrace of a Father faithful to meet my every need.

He always has been. He always will be. And this year, whatever moments mark my days, I want to spend them enjoying Him in the midst of them.

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