Well here we are at the end of another year. I am not quite sure how we got here because I swear it was only January yesterday – time is flying by far too quickly.
2016 for me personally you have been fine. Certainly you included lots of lovely times, celebrating special friends and their big birthdays, wonderful weddings, journeying with an amazing church family in new adventures. Your highlights have very much been bringing that beautiful baby into our family, and seeing my child grow and thrive. As with each year though you have bought with you some tears, some struggles and a fair share of heartbreak. I am learning though that that is simply life and that probably that is how most years look, that tension between the life-giving amazing moments, the ordinary normal, which in hindsight is probably where the special actually happens, and the hard painful moments which find you on your knees questioning why, how and what.
One thing is definitely for sure though from a world perspective 2016 will definitely be one that goes down in the history books. Brexit, Trump, the atrocities that fill our screens and newspapers on a daily basis, as well as an unprecedented number of well-known deaths. I guess we will all have watched on feeling hopeless, helpless and maybe a little despairingly.
If I am being honest the last couple of months I have felt disengaged, not really being able to connect with God properly or with life. Whilst life is generally good and I am so blessed I have at the same time felt a little overwhelmed and heavy- hearted watching pain unfold around me, in the lives of people I love and in the world at large. I feel helpless because I can’t make things better and I don’t really know how or what to pray. All I can do is try and show love in the midst of it all and I am not always sure I do that very well.
As I looked at all the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve, there was a tension in my heart between being thankful for all that I have, all the love and the material stuff, the massive blessings that I know in my life and which I am guessing you probably know too verses the discomfort of excess and abundance in light of all those who will have spent the festive period in very desperate circumstances.
Over the last few days I have sensed a glimpse of something rising up in me – hope maybe, or a light, definitely a desire to re-engage, a desire for more and to fight harder for people and life and love. As I come to the end of 2016 and get ready for 2017 I think my heart is mainly engaging with these three thoughts:
- Light in the darkness.
“In him was life and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1 vs 4-5
This verse has very much been the focus of advent for me. I find the darkness hard, I find it scary, it overwhelms, it leaves me confused and questioning but I don’t ever want to let it win – I always want to let the light shine brighter. I want to keep fixing my eyes on the one who is always light, who can always overcome the darkness.
I want to chose to keep inviting the light in, to keep believing it will always have power over the darkness, to keep praying that light into the hard broken places of this world and keep being that light for the people God has put around me – I may get that wrong some or a lot of the time but I want to always be willing to show up and be that light.
The light has to win because I know from my own life that that light is our only hope, the only thing that can bring healing, transformation, redemption and restoration and ultimately life itself.
- A few weeks ago I was chatting to my wise skype lady in the States and she challenged me to change the way I question. So often when I hit a hard place, when I am struggling to make sense of things I get tied up in the why questions.
“Why has this happened?”
“Why God have you not stepped in and changed this situation?”
The list could go on and on – as one of my wise friends often tells me I am trying to square the circle and that ain’t ever going to happen.
I was challenged to respond to say “Ok God you have me in this place how do you want me to respond, what part do you want me to play in this particular story and what do you want to teach me through it?”
I loved that challenge because it unlocked something deep inside me and as I go into a new year that is how I want to face every adventure, challenge and struggle that comes my way. I want those two questions to dictate how I respond to life in all its craziness, in all its weirdness and in all its beauty.
- I love the Queen. Those who know me well will testify just how much – in fact one of my Christmas presents was a blow up crown and another was a royal colouring book. She is my hero.
In her Christmas Day speech this year she quoted Mother Theresa “Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love.” She went on to talk about the fact that sometimes the world’s problems seem so big that we can do little to help.
“On our own we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.”
Her Majesty went on to talk about the example of Christ, the example she bases her life around, because his example allows her to see the value of doing small things with great love.
“The message of Christmas reminds us that inspiration is a gift to be given as well as received and that love begins small but always grows.”
I love those words – words that answer that overwhelming helplessness – just start small and always with love. A response which we are all capable of.
So as I come to threshold of 2017 these are 3 things I am taking with me, that light that always shines brighter, that response of “God what part do you want me to play and what do you want me to learn” and doing small things with great love. As I focus on them, as I have sat and put them down in words, an excitement and an anticipation fills my heart at all the possibilities and potentials.
Wishing you a peaceful and light and love filled 2017.