Watermarks:2019

It is January 1, 2020. How is that even possible?

If you’ve been around here awhile, two things will be true. You know that every January I write two posts, one reflecting on the year behind and one setting the focus for the year ahead. You also will have noticed that not much else is getting written these days. I don’t really have a great reason for that but nonetheless here we are. The start of a new year and the time to check for the watermarks to see where we’ve been.

I’m not feeling much like reflecting at the moment. All of the painful moments of the past year seem to be floating to the surface this week. I did take myself to a coffee shop yesterday to journal out all of the benefits of 2019. It is a practice I need to make more habitual, watching for the joys in the story. I listed 50 and I’m sure there were 10,000 more tiny ones that I didn’t remember. It helped to reframe the way I remember the year. For a little while at least.

My word for 2019 was suddenly. Honestly, I have no idea why. I can usually see, looking back on a year, why God gave me that specific word. I didn’t want suddenly to be my word. It kept coming up and I kept ignoring it. My word in 2018 had been cultivate, and it had seemed that everything I’d cultivated died. The habitual plant-killer in me was not surprised. “Suddenly” seemed like a cruel follow-up to a year of cultivation that left me feeling empty-handed. I say feeling because the reality is my life was full of wonderful things and even better people, but I felt so disappointed that my intentional cultivation had resulted in piles of dirt in place of blossoming joys and beauties.

I was afraid to trust God for the suddenlies because the slow work of cultivation had produced so little life. How could suddenly work when slow hadn’t. But suddenly was it. I could not shake it.

Here I am. After a year of suddenly and I’m a thousand times more confused than I was about cultivation. Again there is so much in my life that is incredible. I have been reminded in the last couple of days how amazing my friends are. They are the best thing about my life next to Jesus. I am grateful for the joys in my world, but completely baffled as to why suddenly was the word spoken over this past year. It was a lot of things, contained numerous moments of joy and numerous moments of heartache, but not a single moment was a suddenly.

My verse however got lots of mileage.

They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

Psalm 112:7 (NLT)

My life is relatively uncomplicated compared to the struggles of many. I know that. I don’t want to ignore that. Yet, even so, life is hard. Bad news comes swiftly and certainly. And I am wired and designed in a way to feel the full weight of it every time. I’ve tried to change that about myself. I’ve tried to turn that off. I cannot. It is who I am. However, I can choose to trust the Lord in the midst of it.

It is a choice that must be intentionally made every moment. I stopped choosing it for a bit and began instead rehearsing the lies that sounded so much like truth. I forgot that what I should be rehearsing are the countless ways God has loved me and been faithful. Thankfully, He was faithful yet again and fought for me when things were dark and getting darker by the day. My confidence has been restored. Bad news is unavoidable, but so is God’s kindness.

I don’t have a cute happy wrap up for this post. It is certainly not my best writing. It is simply honest: In all the confusion and all the hope that 2019 contained, it has brought us here, to the door of a new decade. I’m feeling less prepared than ever to move into a new year, but more confident that I do not go into it alone. And the truth is, I’ve always cared more about who is going to be with me than what it is we will be doing, so perhaps this is the best place to be.

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