Some people choose a word for the new year in lieu of making resolutions. I’ve never been able to be that succinct with my future goals, but the past two years it’s been easy to look back over the past 12 months and choose a word to summarize what has already passed. 2011 was the year of grace. 2012 was the year of joy. Neither of these words were especially creative, but they were obviously right.
So now I’ve got a tradition going, but I’ve had trouble settling on a word for 2013. On one hand, I have so many reasons to celebrate. We’ve got a strong marriage, a great church community, extended family on both sides that we adore. We’ve traveled a little and made new friends. And my kids are amazing. (I recognize this even though they do sometimes make me want to check myself into one of those nice facilities with the padded cells.)
But this year has also brought its share of difficulty. In February we learned that our 9-year-old niece had a brain tumor.* We’ve stood with two more families in our church who buried babies they never had a chance to know. I’ve endured some long stretches where I’ve struggled more than usual, feeling emotionally and physically depleted.
So in light of these extremes, I’ve settled on my word:
As it turns out, this is the perfect summary word for several of the things I’ve been trying to learn this year.
It reminds me that God promises my daily bread: what I need for today, and no more. So yes, I can get through the day when it’s 3PM and I think I’m done. And no, I can’t imagine how I’m going to get through tomorrow, because I’m not there yet.
It reminds me that I do believe (I MUST believe) that what John Newton said is true: “Everything is needful that he sends; nothing is needful that he withholds.”
It reminds me that God give me good gifts in their proper season, but that they are not mine to keep forever. So I rejoice in the blessings of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, without trying to hoard them like sparkly treasures.
I sweep the floor and it gets crumby again, I spend hours playing “going to Montana” with a four-year-old, I put effort into what turns out to be a mediocre meal. I (occasionally) speak with patience when I want to snap in frustration and the kids still scream back. I invest in relationships even when I know my friends will soon move away. And every once in a while I wish for a glowing performance review or a standing ovation, or at least something to show for my work at the end of the day. But I’m reminded that my heavenly Father sees what is done in secret, and his approval is all that matters.
This year has taught me that sometimes enough feels like more than I deserve, and sometimes enough feels painfully insufficient. But here I am, taking another breath and opening up the calendar to another new year, so obviously I wasn’t undone by either excess.
So I keep moving forward into the unknown of 2014, knowing that the grace that has brought me safe thus far is the grace that will sustain me through whatever this new year holds.
*I have not written much–at all–about this here, because I’ve felt like it’s not my story to tell. But my sister-in-law IS telling their story, and her faith inspires: teamwatson2013.blogspot.com