Starting last year, inspired by Ann Voskamp at aholyexperience.com, I've started naming my years. Last year was the year of here. And I truly did try to be fully present- soaking up the small moments and the large. Setting aside fears for full absorption of experience. The motivation was to try to relieve some of the anxiety I felt over Gemma's health in the first few months she was born and just enjoy her and my new life as a wife and mama.
I would say that I was more present or at least more aware of my place in situations and experiences because I focused on that theme. It was a successful endeavor but of course, things got in the way, anxiety about her health still remains an ugly monster to fight, and concern for Abe's job still caused me to revert to a longing for the peace that supposedly comes after the storm.
What I'm learning, slowly, and probably will continue to be reminded of until I'm dead, is that the bitter and the sweet exist simultaneously. The fear of her sickness is only cushioned in the awareness of her health- the reality of Abe's seemingly ceaseless job search is only made bearable by the blessing of his current job(s). So, in the midst of striving to be truly present, I must embrace, feel fully, express gratitude during, and experience the bitter times too. It's an ongoing journey, of that I'm certain.
This year, I've decided that the biggest thing I battle is fear. Usually, it takes the form of worry about Gemma. Since she's so small and dependant, I often feel completely alone in care for her. It's totally irrational, Abe is beyond present and involved. I have a loving family and wonderful daycare- friends and a church family who love us all. But, I feel ALONE in my worry. All the time I am concerned, I feel as though I am the only one. I think that may be the biggest rot of worry- the sense that you are alone in your concern. It's much easier to share concern with someone than to feel that you are the only one concerned and thus, the only one responsible for making it okay. I just wish there was some sort of meter or gauge that would tell you how concerned to be about things. I just worry that I'll miss something and since I feel so alone in my worry, I also feel that if I don't look for everything- something could go overlooked and result in something really scary and... it would be MY fault.
Fear comes as a result of a lack of faith- hmmm.... does that sound incredibly harsh? I almost feel bad writing it, but it's true. There are countless times in the Bible that God tells us to not be afraid, have no fear, be fearless. It's so hard to keep that perspective when we see only what's in front of us- this life, this person, this situation. Eternal eyes are fleeting at best. So, I am surrendering this year in faith to God. That I am never alone, never forsaken, never deserted, and never on my own- no matter how scary or unpredictable things may get. I've been praying and thinking a lot about how to battle fear and I've come to a pretty clear direction that my year needs to take. In the book of James 1:5, I've found my "battle cry"-
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. "
Because I'm surrendering in faith, this year for me will be the year of "WISDOM". I am CLINGING to the promise that if I ask for wisdom, God will provide it. In every fearful situation, I am committing to pray for wisdom on how to proceed, how concerned to be, the empowerment to follow through on what I feel led to do, and let the rest go. We have a massive group of gifted people surrounding us- doctors, teachers, family, friends, minstry leaders and even though it sometimes feels like it, I am most certainly NOT on my own.
I also have this man beside me who holds my hand, listens to my irrational concerns, tries his hardest to alleviate what he can, and then softly encourages me to give it up to God. It's about time I start listening, huh? This year, when I have a multitude of heavy and life changing decisions on the horizon, I will beg God for His infinite wisdom and actively try to let go of the need to be in charge of it all. Because let's face it, I was never in charge to begin with, right? :)
So, what are you going to focus on this year? Have you considered naming your year? I much prefer it to New Year's resolutions... :) No giving up of chocolate or soda, no disapppointing lack of weight loss... just a constant, prayerful refocusing of the lens through which I view life. But just for the record, I've not missed a day of flossing my teeth since the turn of the year, so there.
Happy New Year!
What I'm reading right now:
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
A Love that Multiplies by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar (knock it off, people.... stop judgin') :)
Couldn't get enough:
Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis and Beth Clark
Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman
Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist
Feathers from my Nest by Beth Moore
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
7: An Experimental Mutiny against Excess by Jen Hatmaker