If I had to sum up the past year in one word, it would very easily be this: humbling.
Me and humility have always had a pretty terrible relationship. I want to be humble, but I don’t want to become humble. In other words, I don’t want to see my weakness. I don’t want to be in a spot where I actually have to depend on God. In my dream world I’m this loving wife and brilliantly creative homeschooling mom with a clean house and I’m hospitable and I read books all the time and I’m always helping out others and I respond to negative situations with strength and grace. In this dream world, I do not cry and I am not sad. There’s plenty of Bible reading, sure. But there is no begging God for grace. I suppose that in my imaginary world of what I want to look like, I have no need to ask others for help. There is no confessing of sin.
There has been some amazing and wonderful stuff that's happened this year. When I went back through my photos to compile my annual Yearbook, I was reminded that I am so blessed to make such happy memories with my family literally every day.
However, there's also been a lot of painful stuff going on in the past several years (I hope to share a little more about it at some point but it’s not yet resolved) and I have certainly not embodied that resilient persona I had hoped to have by now. I think I respond to difficulties with even less valiance than I did when I was younger. Instead I just cry. A lot. Sometimes for hours on end. You’d think I’ve been taking notes from my 2-year-old.
For a couple weeks this year I even reached a point where I wasn’t sure if God was real. If He was real, I was almost certain that I didn’t belong to Him, because (by my wrong estimation) real Christians don't get doubtful or sad. Reading the Bible seemed to make me more upset, so I purposefully chose not to spend time in God’s Word because I was scared that it would send me off into a deeper bout of gloom.
So...is there a happy ending?
At risk of sounding like Eeyore: Not really? Not yet? Maaaajor weakness continues to abound and it's frustrating every time.
But here are a couple wonderful things that God has brought through 2016's highs and lows:
-Some people loved me really well. One sister in Christ committed to calling me on Tuesday afternoons so we could pray together for 20 minutes about the issue I’m struggling with. Another sister was always available for me when I called her sobbing and hyperventilating, and she prayed for me and told me true things until I calmed down. Our pastors have been helping me and caring for our family with gentleness and love. I experienced the healing James 5 talks about when I truly confessed my sin to another person. My church family has proven for me that God is real and Christ is alive I actually am one of His. Not only has He not forgotten me, but through His people—people I would never be friends with if they were not my family in Christ—I really do feel Christ’s love for me so tangibly. (So, yes, in case you were wondering, I'm more convinced than ever that God is real and I am His.)
-I’ve seen a huge connection between my physical discipline and my emotional wellbeing. I tend to be far more even-keeled when I’m eating healthy and exercising. This is shocking to me because I am the queen of quitting and I have never pushed myself physically until this year. But I really do feel much better when I’m making good choices. Frustratingly, despite all my hard work I haven’t slimmed down (and in a 3-month period when I was exercising the most, at least seven people still asked or assumed that I was pregnant; not appreciated, ha!) but regardless of my appearance I have found that I really need God to help me grow in my perseverance and stamina—in holding planks and in all things.
-God held onto me. My faith was tested, and I failed the test. But what happened anyway? God proved Himself faithful. He kept me. I’m ending a really hard year and guess what! I still love Jesus. He’s still showing me beautiful things through His Word every day and filling my heart with joy. My kids have learned from me as I learn from Jesus that He is truly everything. Peter and I are still married, still repenting, and still forgiving. The Lord can handle my doubt. His people have been forgetting Him and rebelling against Him for thousands of years, and He hasn’t given up on them yet. God has sustained multitudes of other weak people from all over the world and throughout all history. He’s not going to start giving up on me!
A lot of scriptures have been deeply comforting and sweet this year but these are a couple really defining verses I've found as I read through the Old Testament this year:
2 Chronicles 26:16. “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.”
But then there’s this: “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12.)
Tim Keller has said "There's nothing more relaxing than humility." To be honest, I haven't really experienced that yet, but I know some older saints who have trusted God for decades, and I want the same peace and relaxation they have in depending on God for their troubles. If 2016 has taught me anything, it's that if my hope is in anything other than Jesus, it's a false hope and it's bound to disappoint me. So I'm grateful that He's using whatever He finds necessary to direct my hope to the only One who can actually hold me.
Overall, my heart is grateful and full of praise. I'm so happy to be His.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 26, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 6, 4, 3, and squishy-baby. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today