The Countdown Begins
It begins after Christmas. News media outlets and social media pages make lists and references to all the ways the passing year failed us. “201[insert year of choice] was awful,” we echo. “I need January 1st to get here ASAP.”
As much as I love a good list, it burdens my heart to hear people speak about a year with such hostility. This culture encourages a cyclical attitude of stomping on former years and glorifies future ones. It feels like people are throwing away a good dinner party because the bread was stale and the wine wasn’t their favorite.
I understand that we go through mountains and valleys and seasons of drought. Scripture tells us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, ESV). Sometimes, we experience pain that surpasses traffic anxiety and makes our hearts feel like they’ve been blended to a pulp. The year had a few of those for me, too, unfortunately.
But I believe in a God who gives more than takes. I believe in a God who blesses without fanfare—because He’s that humble and confident at the same time.
A Billion Little Gifts
In the West, we live life ostentatiously and remember years by their grand gestures. We might feel boring if we don’t have brightly colored, life-or-death stories to share at Christmas time. (Now, don’t get me wrong. My friends compare me to glitter; I love loud get-togethers, confetti, and boogying in the middle of a dance floor).
However, if we are only thankful for our life-changing moments, we will live off the crumbs leftover from ages past. Hourly, we miss out on the presents He slips us because our eyes have been trained to look for shiny wrapping. We forget that gifts can look like new friendships, fixed pipelines, and secret recipes revealed. They can look like phone calls on the weekend and strangers who make us laugh.
“And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20, NLT, emphasis added).
This passing year brought me more grief than I ever felt prepared for. I suffered and I failed and I came face-to-face with counting the cost. I lost relationships the way some people line up dominoes. One falls and then the other, and the other in return.
But I also traveled and published my writing and moved into my very own home. I started making jewelry and learned how to cook sweet potatoes. I fell in love with basketball and bought my own Christmas tree. I put up the ornaments loved ones gave me in college, and I wrapped my green blanket around the stand so it looked like a tree skirt.
When I look back on 2019, I know there were many mornings I woke up with my eyes puffy and mouth dry. Mornings that are the aftermath of late-night tears and toilet-paper tissues. They are my least favorite kind of mornings.
But there were also mornings I woke up with the dawn. Mornings when I heard nothing but the sound of the air conditioner running, stable and steady through the night. Mornings when I ate pumpkin-flavored pancakes and drank Earl Grey tea in the quiet.
“Do not disdain the small,” said Christian author Ann Voskamp in her book, One Thousand Gifts. “The whole of the life—even the hard—is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole.”
Happy New Year
I hope you do get excited for when the ball drops at midnight. I hope you make a list of new goals and add to that bucket list you have hidden away someplace. By all means, “pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6, NLT).
I encourage you to be thankful. The overwhelming, silly, and sober kind of thankfulness. The kind of thankfulness that bubbles up over weddings and graduations and even new car tires.
Let’s give this year the round of applause its Creator deserves.
Happy new year, everyone, and happy passing one, too!
Featured Image by Jamie Street