October 29, 2016

As I Take My First Steps Into My 39th Year on This Whirling, Twirling Planet...

Today is my birthday. I have lived 38 years. 38 happy, wonderful, scary, sad, hard, emotional, short, long years. Tomorrow starts year 39. I am not as afraid of it as I thought I would be. I am not celebrating it with who I thought I would be. Year 38 has been one of the longest, yet shortest years, so far. The hardest, but yet sprinkled with lots of good, holy hard. Nothing I ever asked for or imagined, yet full of some of my greatest spiritual, eternal growth. And isn't that really what this Christian, Christ-following, sanctifying life is really all about?

Death will do that to you. It will show you what matters and what doesn't. What is worth your time and what isn't. What is eternal and what will fade away like the melting snow. It sharpens your vision and, eventually, your focus (I am still waiting for that last part!) I never dreamed my Kevin would not be beside me for a birthday. Especially this one. And the next one. And the next one. I was looking forward to seeing what he would inevitably do to surprise me when I hit 40 (and how he'd rub it in that I got there four years before him.) We won't celebrate together today (though he's certainly celebrating, but it has nothing to do with my birthday. Jesus trumps that in every way!) There are no grand, selfless plans of providing water or Bibles or shoes or handing out gift cards with my birthday this year. I admit, I am being totally selfish. I whisked the kids away and we're having some fun, just the three of us, and it's just how I want it today.

What I want has changed so much in year 38. Making people think our lives are perfect and wonderful is a ludicrous thought now. I can't believe I ever thought that was important. Showing only the best moments and leaving out all the real ones is just ridiculous to me on this side of addiction and death. Being real, raw, and honest is the only way to truly live. The only way to truly be able to draw close to my Savior and let Him bring the healing, rest, joy, and peace that I need to be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other each day.

Are the days hard? Yes. Is this life impossible without Kevin by my side? No. Why? Because the Lord hems me in, before and behind. The Lord of Hosts has an angel army surrounding me that is far greater than anything satan throws my way. The Lord has seen all my days before even one of them was lived. The Lord is my Rock and my Salvation.

So, as I take my first steps into year 39 on this whirling, twirling planet, I have a theme song. A song to sing over every one of these coming days. I first heard this song toward the end of last year, and liked it, but didn't think much of it. Today, every word is just for me. Every word is what I am begging God to help me live out over the next 365 days as I inch another year closer to 40. Another year closer to seeing Kevin again. Another year closer to meeting my Savior face to face. Oh, how I want to serve Him well with the time I have left on this earth. Some days I just don't understand why we can't just go to heaven as soon as we're saved and skip all this hard, painful, earthly living. Some days I know that without this hard, painful, earthly living there's no way I'd love my Savior or see the deep love in what He's done for me.

This year, I'm not looking back to who I was because I'm gonna be someone I've never been.
Amen! I barely even recognize the woman I was a year ago. And in this new year, I am going to be someone I've never been or even dreamed I would or could be. (Though, isn't this really true of all of us, each year? We're never exactly the same year to year. Only God never changes.) This will be my first full year as widow and single mom. Two titles I don't want, yet have no choice but to accept. I pray God will enable me to be braver than I ever thought possible. Closer to my Father than I've been in the previous 38 years combined. I stand here and wave goodbye to the people pleasing, whiny, fearful, selfish me that was weak and had a shallow faith. I look ahead and set my eyes on things above, on the One above, and press on toward the goal to win the prize for which Christ has called me heavenward. The woman I was before was loving and sweet and kind, but I can be so much more. I must be so much more. 40, I am coming at you with joy and hope and peace and rest. Fear can take a hike.

This year, I'm not focused on the cracks in the walls, not keeping track of all the times I fall. This year.
Oh, this is so hard, isn't it? I am going to look at the cracks, own up to my failures, then leave them behind. Learn from them, yes. Wallow in them? No. Let them keep me from serving Christ with all I have? No. Let them keep me from pouring myself out so my kids see Christ in my life and in every lesson we study? No. Let them keep me from having real, honest, raw, deep relationships with those the Lord has placed around me? No. Let them keep me from opening up my home? No. (Honestly, that last one will be the hardest!) I am one who compares and allows my false perceptions and unrealistic expectations keep me from doing the better things. Oh, Father, help me to not do that this year!

So long to last year! It's all becoming so clear, there's no use living in regret.
I have so many regrets as I look at this past year. So many things I wish I had said or done differently. If I had done those things, would Kevin still be here? If I hadn't done some things, would Kevin still be here? I have allowed those thoughts and questions to haunt me for almost 8 months. But you know what, dwelling on that regret does nothing good for me. I cannot change the past, no matter how much I wish I could, and there is a whole life in front of me that needs to be lived. I cannot live that life, here and now, if I spend my time living in regret. Father, help me to look back, learn what I need to be able to serve You better in the future, then face forward and get moving. 

Let's fight a good fight, train our eyes to find the light, and make this year the best one, yet.
Glory hallelujah! And friends, there's only one good fight; the good fight for faith. Lord, help me to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Help me to take hold of the eternal life that I was called to when I made my confession of belief in You. Lord, train my eyes to see the light You bring into even the darkest of days. You are light. Let me see Your light shining on the good days, the hard days, and every day in between. Train my eyes to see You in every situation. There is nowhere I can go from Your presence, so, Lord, open my eyes to see that. When I do, I know it will be the best day, week, month, year, yet. 

This year, I can't wait to see what good will come.
I just almost can't even come up with words to express how much this line makes me want to laugh and shout and dance and whither into a pile of tears all.at.once. It makes me want to give a long, loud, whole body sigh just to think about it. I am weary of the hard. The sad. The suffering. The lonely. The scary. The unknown. The everything but good. Oh, Lord, make this line so! But, even as I say that, I am reminded that Scripture has already promised me that in all things the Lord is working for the good of those who love Him. So, even in the hard and sad and lonely and scary and unknown and the everything that doesn't feel good, He is making good. Lord, give me eyes to see Your good, even when my heart and mind don't want to or can't see or feel it. 

To feel alive instead of feeling numb. This year.
Yes. Yes. A million times yes!!!!! Grief sucks. I feel lost and tired and blah. Compassion has long since jumped ship. Mercy is non-existent at this point. There is certainly little to no filter between my brain and my mouth because I just.can't.even. I know it's hard to explain, but even when I feel overwhelmed with every emotion all at once, it still feels numb. Because I don't feel like me. I am so ready to shake that off and come out the other side overflowing with love and passion and compassion. Oh, Father, make it so! Give me a heart like Yours. Give me a love like Yours. Give me a passion for the things of You and break my heart for the things that break Your heart. Show me how to serve You well by moving beyond grief and into worship and adoration and action.

This year, I plan on thinking less of "I" and "me". I resolve to think of "us" and "we." This year.
I don't know how JJ Heller penned a song that was so perfect for me, but these lines are a perfectly accurate description of both the last year of my life and how I desperately want the next year of my life to look. Grief is selfish. Grief has robbed my ability to think beyond my four walls. Beyond my own little family. I can't even get my thank you cards delivered. And they've been written for almost 8 months! Lord, help my mind to shift from "me" to "us." Help me to think of others as though they are part of my family, living within my four walls. Enable me to stop seeing us as a family of three and to see the whole body as a family to love and pour into each day. I know that I can't have deep relationships with everyone and I don't want to do that, but we're a family and we must love and care for each other. We must love and care for our community and those people who are in front of us each day. Oh, Father, I honestly hate this part. If I could, I would never leave my house. You know that. This part is going to take some serious, Divine intervention. But, praise the Lord (well, praise You, I guess), I have a God that is more than able to change my heart and make me capable of doing this as He goes along beside me. I have no idea what this looks like, and it makes me really nervous, but Father, teach me to see others as You see them. Teach me to love You and love people as Your hands and feet.

Year 39, I am looking you right in the face, taking the hand God is holding out to me, and here we go! I have no idea what you hold, but I know that the Lord will somehow make it all for my good and His glory. 

PS--You will want to hear This Year by JJ Heller and I think you'll love the video as much as I do. It's fun and joyful and just how I want my new year to sound and feel! And the hats, oh the hats!  ;)

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday, Heather! May God bless your year with joy and contentment, praise and thanksgiving, dancing and singing, helping and giving, provision and protection, hope and peace. In abundance. In Jesus' Name.
    Love,
    Bethany Woods

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