It’s not been a great year. I hesitate to even say this though because, as we all know, our individual human experiences don’t necessarily reflect the temperature of the culture at large. I’m sure some people have had the best year of their lives and don’t really resonate with the idea that 2016 should just end already. I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, as I suspect you do as well, dear robot reader. But as the year winds down I’ve found myself in my usual late-December train of thought, wondering about the journey a person can make in a year. (I’m a creature of habit, so my mind usually flips through the same topics on an annual turnover rate. No doubt this blog will end up looking very cyclical as the months progress again.)
I’ve found myself moving a lot in my life. I haven’t settled in any given place in four years. When I was younger I thought that this was “the dream.” Like most teenagers I idealized traveling and being comfortable in cities and knowing the ropes around lots of towns. And while I wouldn’t say I’m particularly versed in the ways of the world, I have packed up my life enough times to finally know it’s not really for me.
Maybe this is what growing up looks like in my case. I cringe at saying this because “growing up” is a phrase that just welcomes criticism, internally and otherwise. But this realization, that you needn’t travel to feel complete, is one I sometimes wish I had believed as a child. There’s enough songs/musicals/movies about this that I can’t really use the argument “why didn’t anyone tell me!”
I sometimes feel the desire to chalk up my continual movement as a point against me on the scoreboard of life- that as all my contemporaries are graduating and settling I’m worse off for not doing the same. I look around at my life and it’s objectively small. But I love what’s been given to me. I love the work I get to do and the people I get to see on a daily basis (and that I’ll be here for two years, hallelujah!). And on top of my current situation, I’m the person I am today because of my experiences. I have the brain I have because of my choices. I have been able to teach myself and read and learn about the weird little things I’ve wanted to because of these choices. And to quote Sondheim, “The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not.”
I’m on the continual journey (rollercoaster, uphill battle, endless mission) of caring more about God’s view of me than anyone else’s. This feels very closely tied in with the discussion of a “life scoreboard.” Whether I become the first female President of the United States or continue to move every year of my life, if I’m seeking the Lord’s will, if I’m acknowledging Him in all my ways, it doesn’t matter. Not only because no one else’s opinion matters, but also because no one else is keeping score. In a sermon I heard today Tim Keller talked about how we can rest in the knowledge of God’s love for us, in what He thinks of us. He said, “The only eyes who care love you and know you.” I can type that, but believing it is the next step. One of my favorite quotes, the one that inspired the tattoo on my arm is about this idea, and I still can’t get it into my head.
I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead them through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose finger ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, touch His garments, smile into His eyes – ah then, not stars nor children shall matter, only Himself.
Even if I don’t get the life of my dreams, or do the work I find most fulfilling, if I am looking into His eyes, nothing else matters. So in the end, am I doing my work to justify myself and my life here on earth, or am I doing it because it will give God His due glory, because my obedience pleases Him?
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This was just supposed to be a year-end wrap up but things have gotten way deeper than I expected. As you can see I need to write more, or else these things will just spill out at random times.
For me 2016 looked like packed boxes and schedules; long work hours and longer car rides; risk and reward; tears shed over ending friendships and the blooming of new ones. As with all years I have found a lot to be grateful for and I’ve learnt what not to repeat. As much as I hate the night of New Years and the pressure to have a big celebration, I do love the idea of January 1st. I understand it’s just another day, but there’s so much possibility- there’s so much that can happen, it’s the essence of a blank slate. So I have resolved to make 2017 a year of
intentional action towards the change I can affect
giving in gratitude
speaking my mind and heart in eloquence
& reading the books I’ve been given.