Hello, 2017. Your arrival is highly anticipated. Oddly, your departure might be as well.
For some reason the twelve months that you contain always seem to hold so much ambivalence that by the time it is your turn to leave, most of the world is already moving on to your successor.
I’ve heard the invitations to resolute you however I’m still not certain how to greet you. Hello, darkness, my old friend? You say goodbye, and I say hello? Hello, is it me you’re looking for? Hello from the other side?
Last year. Does it bother you when I say that? Does it feel like a comparison to you? Each year, I find it becomes a little more difficult to remember the details. Do you already know the details of the previous years or do you only care about the ones that will make up this year?
If you can’t tell, I am experiencing a little anxiety already in this newly formed relationship with you. Looking ahead for me can feel overwhelming and unnerving. Living moment by moment seems to work best when it comes to minimizing the chaos in my life and my head. Although I believe in the beauty of dreaming, I tend to rest most often in the land of realism.
Realism. The attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly. With known realities, I can begin to plan and yet something inside me holds back, reminding me of all the variables that make a plan inconclusive. Wonder fills my mind as I curiously consider why planning with certainty feels stifling to me.
Opposing my realism is an unwavering hope, a feeling of expectation that envelopes my heart and softens the edges that reality has thrown my direction.
This kind of hope is crazy-making for a realist and yet it remains.
Hope. Remaining despite me. Not on my own accord.
“Be careful what you ask God for when you pray. Have you ever considered how he will answer? If you ask for patience, he will give you opportunities to grow patience.” Words, spoken by a teacher have stayed with me over twenty-five years. I have never asked God for more patience. After all, I would not want to be given more opportunities for growing patience. Or would I?
Her words, a warning to my angsty teenage soul. Clamoring for control and armed with this knowledge, my prayers began to change. Control didn’t come for me despite my omission prayers and so my requests shifted. “I’ll walk through anything you have for me God. Can you just show me how this turns out? I’ll endure whatever it is if I can know how it will resolve.”
Ultimately, I know how my story resolves when it comes to eternity, but what about life until then? Resolution hasn’t come for me despite those early prayers. I haven’t been given a crystal ball or a front row seat to the movie of my life. Honestly, if I had actually known what it was that God was going to ask me to walk through and into I would have chosen another path. I would have missed out on so very much.
Recently, my four year old was unwrapping a fragile candy cane and realized it was broken into pieces by the time he had removed the wrapper. Upon discovering his reality, he threw the candy cane across the room splitting it into dozens of tiny pieces. He screamed and cried, demanding another candy cane. I offered to let him have another one if he helped clean up the mess he had made and he quickly started picking up the broken pieces. I brought the box to him, showing him that all of them had cracks. I explained to him that because of the kind of candy cane we had, all of them would break when he opened them. He decided that it was still worth it and began opening a new one. My husband, having missed the interchange, walked into the house and offered to help him open it up so that it wouldn’t break but my son looked up at his dad and said, “I know it’s going to break, and it’s going to be okay.”
I love that! How differently might I respond in life if I held that truth closely to my heart? Truth is, in this life, there will be joy. There will be disappointment. There will be death and grieving. There will be unexplainable beauty and breathtaking pain. My heart will grow with love and it will break with sorrow. It’s going to break, and I am going to be okay.
I’m going to be okay because I have been promised a companion to walk with me as living hope. As I welcome you 2017, my prayer is that I would also become more aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence. In the words of Francesca Battistelli’s song, “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for…to be overcome by Your presence, Lord.”
Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys. A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here. &