Even If

There’s just something about a new year. It’s a period, not a comma. A hard stop. That was last year; what does this year hold? We have no idea, and maybe that’s the best part.

Every year around the end of December, we look back on the previous twelve months and look ahead to the next twelve. While this may look like reflections and resolutions, at the core of it all is desire. What was good or terrible in the past year can be categorized into met and unmet desires, and our resolutions for what we hope for are another way of saying this is my desire.

My family and I dubbed 2013, “The Year of Mallory.” I still remember my sister sending me a message on January 1 of that year. “Happy Year of Mallory,” she exclaimed. Without saying it, we were all saying it — maybe this would be the year I would meet my husband. This was, after all, my deepest desire in every year, for several years. The beginning of a new calendar year renewed hope within me that this desire would be met. While I couldn’t force my husband to appear, maybe this year, in 2013, we would speak him into being. It’s the Year of Mallory, after all—how could this not be the year I would meet him?

Sounds hopeful, right? Well, spoiler alert, when December 31, 2013 rolled around, I hadn’t met my husband. I was still very single as we transitioned from the Year of Mallory to 2014. Once again, my desire for one year carried over into the next. As we rang in another new year, I felt a strange fusion of disappointment and anticipation. The past year hadn’t unfolded in the way I wanted it to but here we are, at the threshold of a brand new year—what if this one unfolds the way I hope it will?

And it did. In May of 2014, a few months after my 30th birthday, I met the man who is now my husband. It was both earth shattering and completely natural.

New resolutions (read: desires) bubble in my soul as we celebrate the start of a new year, but I often still find myself thinking back to the Year of Mallory. The year that I, once again, did not meet my husband.

A few of my favorite words in scripture come at the beginning of Daniel 3:18. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have been thrown into a furnace and tied up, making their escape nearly impossible. Death by furnace was inevitable, except they believed God would protect them. “But,” as verse 18 says, “even if he does not…” Even if the Lord doesn’t save them from burning in that furnace, they will still follow, love, and worship Him. Even if He does not meet their desire in the way they’d like, He is still worthy of their devotion. Even if He does not work the Year of Mallory out in the way Mallory would like, He is still God. He is still good.

When I think of the Year of Mallory, the first thing that comes to mind is not my unmet desire. I think about receiving my diploma from graduate school, getting hired on at my alma mater, and of the memories made in the little downtown Seattle apartment I shared with my best friend. Maybe my unmet desire would still be the first thing I think of if the desire was still unmet, but I hope not.

I hope I will be someone who looks back on my years lived with eyes to see what was good before seeing what was hard.

I think this is easier to do when we are able to sit in the furnace and say, “But even if he does not…”

Whatever our desires are as we welcome 2019, I hope that these words from Daniel remain closely tied to them. We cannot be delivered from the flames if we’re never in the fire. There may be moments when our difficulties seem to drown out our desires, but don’t lose hope! Whatever comes this year, fires of adversity or feasts of blessing, He will still, at the end of it, be God.

Mallory Redmond embraces anomalies–she is an adventure-loving homebody who keeps a clean house yet always makes a mess while eating or brushing her teeth. She loves dry humor, clean sheets, and gathering around the table with friends. Mallory and her husband, Darren, live in Ohio with their beagle, Roger, and daughter, Evelyn. You can follow her writing here, where her stories are told with the hope of further uncovering the places of connection in our humanity.