I woke up to the sound of rain this morning, and it sounded like all the yuck from 2014 being washed away.
Last year was hard. My parents had several health issues, some terrifyingly close to the edge. I lost my sweet cat (okay, sweet to me) that I’d had since 1997. And the daily load of life and homeschool and parenting and whatever seemed much harder this year. Most of that was hopefully just physical. I found out that I have a low-thyroid issue, so I’m crossing my fingers that those little pills will give me some added oomph for the journey. And of course, it seemed as if the whole world was struggling last year. Violence and war, economic tumult and civil unrest. Our own nation seems to be in an extensional crisis, with questions of justice and opportunity and the reality of the American dream being asked in each new challenge and tragedy.
Yes, I’m more than glad to close the books on 2014.
But coming off a hard experience can make it difficult to go forward with anything other than trepidation, and that seems like a lousy way to start the year. So how do you face a new challenge with the memory of the old clinging to you?
Last night, my youngest son was sent as a messenger for the oldest son to come get me (older son being in the top bunk and all.) Five minutes after going to bed, they were both “having bad dreams.” Uh-huh. But I know the thoughts that can plague a person–big or small–as he’s trying to go to sleep, particularly if their parents tried to make them watch a movie that was too intense for them. (We switched to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but a couple of scary images stuck.) So I told them what I always tell them: that Jesus says we should take captive every thought and make it obey him, and that he helps us do that. So if we’re having scary thoughts, first we pray, then we start thinking of good thought. If we can’t manage to do that, we sing to Jesus. (Satchmo’s good thought was about how he could make a Lego Marvin.)
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The past is what it is, and while my emotional reaction to it isn’t great, the truth is that God uses all situations to lead me along the path he has for me. What good has or will come from difficulty? I don’t know that I’ll ever have the full answer to that. But I do trust that God is working in me and through my circumstances to make me into whatever he wants the final version to be–which means those hard circumstances last year were part of the plan, and this year will most likely bring additional circumstances that are difficult. But circumstances are just part of the journey that is taking me and making me to the the final destination and final form.
In C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle, the final volume in The Chronicles of Narnia, the unicorn Jewel assesses their seemingly hopeless situation and advises, “Nothing now remains for us seven but to go back to Stable Hill, proclaim the truth, and take the adventure Aslan sends us.”
Of course, I’m not facing a hopeless situation. But whatever I face, I can make my thoughts about it obedient to God. I can believe what he says about me and the world and himself. I don’t know what the New Year will bring. Honestly, there isn’t any reason to believe that it will be all unicorns and rainbows. Many of the things that caused the hardships of 2014 are still at play looking forward, but I can change my perspective. I can take captive those thoughts of fear or dread and make them obedient to the God who knows and has already won. I can accept the adventure that he sends me.
Happy new adventure.