I meant to take Liam on a walk with me a few days ago, but instead I found myself sweeping up the patio and then picking up twigs in our yard as he played nearby. A windstorm had blown a bunch of tumbleweeds into our neighborhood a few days before Christmas, and although I had broken down the ones in our yard and filled several garbage bags with them on Christmas Eve, there were still a lot of remaining pieces scattered between the rocks.
The activity seemed fitting for my current mindset and mood. I’m generally excited to usher in a new year and dream about the possibilities that the next twelve months might bring, but this year has been different for me. I’ve been muddling through my normal New Year activities with little enthusiasm this time. The year that the world anxiously awaited is one that has met me with sorrow as my heart continues to ache for friends who suffered incredible losses last year.
Picking up twigs that day was a vivid reminder that, although we’ve entered a new year with hope of better days to come, we must still deal with the physical and emotional debris created by the damage of last year’s storms. We must pick up the broken pieces of our lives if we are to begin the healing process and start to move forward. In light of the aftermath of last year’s storms, perhaps we need to set aside some of our expectations over what we thought this year should be.
Recently I’ve come to realize that a year doesn’t need a whole lot of pizzazz or big celebrations to make it a good one. This year does not need to make up for “lost” time to make it worthwhile either. If the brokenhearted are able to find comfort and move toward healing this year, then it will be a good one. And if those who suffered physical, financial, or personal loss last year are able to move toward recovery in this one, then it will be a good year. But most of all, if we are able to experience God’s perfect peace in the midst of another potentially turbulent year, then I believe that we will be able to say by December that, at least personally, it was a good one.
If anything, last year clearly showed us that we cannot control our circumstances, but I hope it also clearly reminded us that God is still in control, and He can still fill our days with hope, joy, and peace in the middle of any storm. We must remember these things as we journey through these next twelve months. We must choose to remember that Jesus came to give us abundant life, and that life is dependent solely on Him and not on what any given year may bring.
As I mourn the losses from last year (and events that have already taken place this year), I find comfort in knowing that spring will come to our hearts again someday. This long season of winter won’t last forever. We may not enter into it feeling as young or as carefree as we once were, and it may not come as soon as we want or even look like what we were expecting. Nonetheless, just as the birds will sing and the flowers will bloom again, our hearts will find spring anew and delight afresh in the simple pleasures of life and God’s faithfulness throughout every season.
In the meantime, I will continue to pick up the twigs between the rocks in our yards as I delight in the sweetness of hope.