Happy New Year! There is something almost magical that comes with the beginning of a new year. We get a fresh start, a clean slate, another chance to live our best year yet. It is full of mystery and unknown possibility. What will this year hold? What memories will be made? What goals will be accomplished?
I realize that every day can be like this. Each day is new, and if we are completely honest, there isn’t really anything special about New Years Day. You don’t have to wait until this specific day to make goals or live your life differently, you can do that anytime, anywhere. But I still love this time of year and the fresh feeling of endless possibilities that come with it.
New Years also causes me to think and reflect on the past year and the ups and downs that came with it. What were the highlights? The lowlights? What have I learned from my experiences in order to grow and be better for this next year?
In all transparency, 2013 was rough for our family. It was the hardest year of my life. We dealt with many health issues, for both me and our son, Liam. Some complicated, some just annoying. We had close friends and family move farther away from us, which felt like a loss in and of itself. But the hardest part of this year was losing two precious babies through miscarriage within four months of each other. I felt as though my heart had been ripped out, thrown into a gorge, and trampled by Wildebeest a la The Lion King style. Ouch.
I share all of this with you, not to drag you down with all the depressing stuff we’ve dealt with, but to be honest with where we have been in order to show how God has been so faithful to us in the midst of it all.
I do not believe for one second that God willed for any of this to happen to us. I do not think that God causes bad things to happen to His children. He loves us deeply and doesn’t want us to hurt. We live in a broken world, and bad things are a result of that. I still don’t fully understand why these things happened, and I won’t pretend to understand or know it all. I asked “WHY?” many times this year, and I still do not have an answer, but I am okay with not knowing.
Because here is what I do know…
God is a good God, He is always with us, and He LOVES us. And this year, I have experienced that goodness, that closeness, and that love greater than I ever have before.
In the midst of my life’s greatest storm, God wrapped me in His arms and sheltered me from the wind. I still felt the rocking of the boat and the sting of rain on my face, but I knew I was safe because He was there and He would never leave me.
And then He said, “‘Peace, be still.’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39)
Now, as I stand on the edge of a New Year (with a healthy baby on the way) and the hope and promise that comes with it, I look back on 2013 with gratitude, for I know God’s faithfulness better than ever before. I now know what it is like to completely surrender my life and circumstances to Him and to find joy in trusting that God has very good things in store.
I am sure you have dealt with your own trials and difficulties this year, and I pray that you experience God’s love, joy, and peace like never before. There is something so redeeming about looking back on a difficult season and recognizing what ways you have grown or learned from that experience. Reflection can cause transformation, if we allow it.
So, I would love to hear, what have you learned from your experiences (the good and the bad) in 2013 that will help you grow and live more fully this next year?
Happy New Year! 2014, you are looking mighty fine already.
[On a related note, my husband, Jonathan, spoke this past Sunday on "Hope for Every Season". He shared some from our personal experience this past year and how God gave us hope in the midst of a difficult season. If you are in need of hope, or just want to be encouraged, it would be worth watching.]
Hope for Every Season from Full Life Assembly of God on Vimeo.
[Photos by Kelsey Harrison Photography]