Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hoping for More

A year of dreams and magic and smooth sailing, less struggle and more blessings; that's what we're all hoping for, right?  I imagine we all felt the same at the beginning of this year too; high hopes for 12 months without conflict or illness, but then not too far in, we started facing disappointments and hurts, and before we knew it we were scraping by the months, just trying to survive, determined to make it to the fresh start of a new year. Suddenly we are at the end of a string of long, hard places, clinging desperately to the fray and looking up for a stronger, longer rope, just to realize that our safe passage isn't guaranteed.  That those hopes to slip through unscathed are just that, hopes, and the days ahead of us have just as much potential to leave us burned as the barren months behind us did.

 To be honest, I held my breath for it too.  For the clean slate, the fresh start; the promise of a year filled with goals and newness and such determination for good, that surely this would be the year to whisper about, the one that brought great good.  Well I shudder to admit, but as we rounded the corner of the end of December, 2016 kicked us in the gut before we even crossed the threshold.  Or maybe it was 2015 getting one last punch in. Either way, we already know this year isn't starting with the expectations we placed on it.  In fact, I flat out didn't even want to celebrate it; dreaded this night and the tears and the pain and the reality that once again we stand in a place where we have no control over our lives.

But you know what... hanging onto to our own ability to control our lives is what sets us up for heartbreak.  I have held too long. Even when I know I can do nothing to help myself, I have been hell-bent on self preservation.  That's not what our Father asks of us.  He asks simply, gently for us to open our hands... to surrender our lack of faith and trust that even when the weight of the world threatens to crush us, He will never let go.

There are no guarantees for this year to come; our dreams may crumble, our relationships disappoint, our health fail, our people leave us, but we don't have to be sure of the future to be sure of our security through it.  So lean with me, press into whatever is coming, walk into this new year with a brave heart and a determined faith, because we don't need to know what's ahead, only Who is behind us.

I knew tonight I would be standing at the edge of this new valley, looking out over the unknown, watching from the outside as everyone else was sharing the joyful moments of ringing in their new year, while I stand holding broken pieces.  I know I have a choice to let fear and sadness overwhelm, or to trust that I can free-fall into the unknown with the confidence that I will never hit the bottom.  Never.

I can be thankful for all that has happened, because in the end, that's what my faith is made from.  I know that whatever is hard in 2016, He will work for good.

So happy New Year, my friends.  Let Him make your broken so, so beautiful.


Friday, December 4, 2015

The Smile That Broke Me

Yesterday I fought the urge to pick up the phone and cancel, and the afternoon sun found me shuffling across the cement, a small toddler hand tucked into mine to face the day.  The sky burned a brilliant blue, but my legs were heavy, my heart clouded.  We passed an older gentleman and his wife leaving the building, and his eyes immediately met mine as a broad smile flashed across his face. In that instant, a small pool of tears suddenly spilled across my cheeks.  Maybe it was exhaustion, maybe hormones or pain, or maybe it was that this world has felt mighty heavy lately.  Maybe it was anticipating that today we would say our final goodbyes to a man of strong character; a father, a husband, a son... a friend, a brother whose life was senselessly cut short by the suffocating theme of violence and hate that peppers our daily headlines.

Whatever it was, it was a moment of humanity; a reminder that we are all just trying to make it, that we all leave our homes with a swallow of uncertainty in our hearts, and we long for safety, for compassion, for love. 

This world isn't going to change.  In fact, it is going to get worse, but when you put on your shoes and your big brave face to confront the moments ahead of you, remember the impact a simple kindness can bring.  Remember that we are all travelers here, facing the fears that lie on the horizon, and longing for our forever home.  I will still drop my kids at school whispering prayers in my thoughts, telling them if I don't see them later I will meet them in Heaven, because frankly these days are dark and uncertain, but I know in the middle of the things going down that something as simple as a well directed smile can bring a warmth to a cloudy soul, a promise of hope and of enduring love.