There is a stirring in my heart that I cannot ignore as I look forward into 2017.
Likewise I cannot ignore my tender heart as I continue to carry into 2017 the overwhelming grief of losing my beloved dachshund, Ashley, and of the ministry I served in for 25+ years. Both still weigh heavy on my heart.
It has been in losing Ashley and stepping away from ministry that my heart has awakened to a new level of faith where I have found gratitude once again. I need both faith and gratitude to combat the messages that lead me to believe that I have done something wrong, or I’m guilty or I have made a mistake. Yes…all those came to mind as I laid Ashley to rest and retired from ministry. I’m realizing my faith had been failing as I started to view my life through the lens of “what’s wrong?” This question carries suspicion and a push back to engage and to be present. It shrinks my heart and it is a lonely place to live.
Oddly enough, it was in ministry where I began to regard my relationships and interactions as “what’s wrong?” I found myself consumed in the chaos and drama of ministry and feeling alone and afraid for what I would be “hit” with next. I began to treat my husband the same way expecting his encounters with me to be greeted with “what’s wrong?” These encounters left me feeling responsible for what was not mine to hold. My tender heart was shutting down and my faith was waning. Where was I to find gratitude in the sorrow of these losses?
I’m learning that faith is about being OK no matter the circumstances I find myself in.
Faith is unseen yet there is hope for me in realizing that I will carry on knowing full well that there will be more losses in 2017. Hope is in the messages of God that speak to the goodness, the love and the anticipation of more to come. There is a future, for how long I don’t know, but there is one. Each breath I take, each decision I make, each prayer I submit are steps into that future. I want to take them in faith and with gratitude.
Today I want my encounters with John and others to be greeted with “what’s right?” And I know this starts with me. I do not want my face and my eyes to carry disappointment and disapproval for “what’s wrong?” into the lives of others. I want my countenance to be one that is an invitation to the tender heart that resides within me. One that still weeps over the loss of Ashley and ministry and one that embraces hope for 2017.
So I say, “Hail to the New Year” with a resounding “HELLO!” Hello’s that bring surprise, warmth, forgiveness and good-heartedness. All this intended to be a blessing for “what’s right?” because my tender heart holds onto faith for what is unknown. My “hello” will give access to my tender heart with the kindness and love that still resonates with grief; yet has room to invite others to gratitude for what has gone by and for what will come.
Join me, if you like, to renew your faith with gratitude as you, too, anticipate 2017. I believe in the hearts of others…I believe in yours. Let hope echo from all of our tender hearts. May others notice the difference and be blessed!
Mary Jane Hamilton loves her life living on Lake Michigan with her husband of 47+ years. It is her family that brings her the greatest joy especially her 6 grandchildren. MJ readily admits that she adores her dachshunds and rests in the comfort they provide. She smiles at life and “rolls with the punches” that are thrown her way. MJ loves Jesus and beauty, MJ loves wind, waves and thunder, MJ loves fashion and good wine, MJ loves…