I’m assuming your laugh is a hearty one—one that shakes the clouds, maybe even causes small earthquakes in California (just the ones that make your glass of water wobble, of course).
I’m sure you laughed when my good friend and I were sitting on the couch in my apartment this time last year. We were both 100% sure that 2013 was going to be a great year.
2013 was a year marked with heartache from broken relationships, loss of beloved family members, inopportune illness, and chronic stress.
Six months in, my friend and I agreed:
A year later we’re sitting on the same seats, on the same couch, having the same conversation about 2014. Except this time there’s hot chocolate. And I got new socks. I’m biting my lip as if to hold back any positive adjectives that want to jump out of my mouth to describe 2014. As if “happy” or “great” or “exciting” are death sentences before the year even begins. RIP 2014—you’ve flat lined before the clock even had a chance to strike midnight on New Year’s Eve.
I’m just about to take out any adjectives whatsoever and remark, “well it will be a year!” when I realize that maybe, just maybe, 2013 wasn’t so bad after all. My friend expresses the thoughts I’m feeling and suddenly clarity occurs like someone finally found the light switch after fumbling around a dark room.
“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). This past year was full of trials and stress and utter exhaustion, but we learned that through it all You work for the good. Because we love You. Because we turned to You every day for the past twelve months.
In the heartache of broken relationships, there came healing. In the loss of loved ones, there came comfort. In illness, there came health. In chronic stress, there came rest.
Because just like my mom, you have a way of pointing out “character building experiences” (Romans 5:3-5). In these experiences I became closer to You. In these experiences You refined me.
Because what if having a “happy” new year doesn’t mean “happy” in the conventional sense—in the sense of rainbows and butterflies and new jobs with higher salaries and romantic engagements with huge diamond rings that weigh down your left hand and luxurious trips around the world on a cruise line that doesn’t lose power or have someone murdered on it—what if having a “happy” new year meant letting You work your magic of creating good from all things. After all, you are The Heavenly Alchemist, making something of worth out of something unworthy.
As long as I turn to You in all things, You’ll make good from all things. ALL things.
You make happy new years from seemingly sucky new years.
Looking back, maybe you weren’t laughing at all when my friend and I were chatting on my couch. Maybe you were agreeing with us.
I’m 100% sure that 2014 is going to be great year, too.
1. “Are we currently experiencing an earthquake or is that your biological clock ticking?”
2. “I just know you are going to find someone soon and be married within 6 months!”
3. “So tell me, any new guys in your life? Wink, wink!”
4. “It’s too bad you’re allergic to cats. They make great companions. Especially in large quantities.”
5. “Why don’t you just put yourself out there more?”
6. “There are plenty of fish in the sea!”
7. “God is going to bring him into your life when you least expect it!”
8. “You’re still single because guys are intimidated by you.”
9. “Guys don’t like girls who can eat more Christmas cookies than them.”
10. “My coworker’s brother has a sister who has a son who has a friend who just got out on parole…He’s tall!”
11. “You’re just too picky.”
12. “Why don’t you create accounts on eHarmony, Christian Mingle, Plenty of Fish, Match.com, and heck, put up a Craigslist ad ‘Single and Christian on Christmas’ just to cover all your bases?”
13. “If all else fails, I heard a rumor that the government might be legalizing marriage of first cousins.”
14. “Enjoy being single while you can!”
15. “Do you know what happened to all the Christmas cookies?”
I’m trying to be a person that relishes moments. Like catching a firefly in a jar, I want to take in the beauty of a fleeting experience by being fully present.
I’m thinking about this soak-up-experiences-like-a-sponge state of mind while the colors from a sunset streak across the sky like the atmosphere is your canvas and you’re the Master Painter. I’m thinking about this while I’m catching up with a kindred spirit through an invisible connection from my computer to hers on the other side of the world. I’m thinking about this as I’m visiting my parents’ home for the first time since Easter and we’re sitting on the couch together with no lights on except for the multi-colored glow of the Christmas tree reflecting off handmade ornaments decades old.
I’m savoring these moments as they are all special and fleeting and precious and I want to make time for them and do them justice. Because important things not only need to be remembered but need to be relished in the moment.
I’m thinking about all this on the first day of Advent, a time when we are preparing our hearts for the coming of your Son.
I’m thinking about how I usually relish the moment that is the Advent season—cookies stuffed with peanut butter cups, white lights that look like icicles, glass ornaments, music about sleigh bells and winter wonderlands, malls with 50% off bargains, movies about humans that think they’re elves and travel to New York City and fall in love with a blonde Zooey Deschannel.
I’m thinking about all this on the first day of Advent and wondering how I can be more fully present in these fleeting four weeks before Christmas.
I’m stuffing my firefly jar too full of meaningless activities and sugar and shopping that I forget to embrace fully the sole light, the sole reason, inside. I want to savor this season because it’s special and fleeting and precious and I want to make time for Jesus’ birthday and do it justice. I want to be the person that relishes in the anticipation of You coming to earth to dwell amongst us as a baby, Emmanuel, You are with us—the Light of the world.