Sunday, January 1, 2012

who holds your year?

 i woke up this morning thinking about last year.  not last night, but thinking about new year's eve a year ago.  we shared it with our friends, mike and meritt,  and then went home before midnight.  (tired toddler issues). the rest of the evening we played a board game, ate some junk food and watched a little tv.  normal new year's eve stuff. and, like millions of others around the world, when the ball dropped, we toasted the new year--kissed, hugged, hoped.

not one of us ever considered that we'd face something like cancer in just a few months of this toasting. i always take time to think about what the new year might hold, but not in the farthest reaching corners of my mind could i have guessed 2011 would bring with it such a dreaded diagnosis.  for some reason, my wiring is such, that i've never been tremendously anxious about the future.  i've always had a pretty positive outlook, a  pretty healthy perspective.  but within just a few months, that bright and shiny new year turned awfully dark. black, in fact. and i learned something big in 2011:  sometimes "the new" can be scary.  i had never imagined dealing with such a large medical crisis.  we were coasting along as a new family just fine.  bella had only been home a few months, it was her first christmas and her first new year.  it was an unbelievably beautiful time filled with happiness and health and hope.  we were just settling into the skin of our family of seven, just getting into our groove and so i toasted 2011 with great expectation, with great hope.   obviously, just expecting more of the same--more of a good thing. more love, more grace, more beauty. more.

but the truth is, when we stand on the precipice of a new year, we have no idea what is out ahead.  we hope for the best and we pray for our future, but there's really no way to know what the new year might bring.  perhaps that is not what you wanted to read today. it certainly isn't a message i long to listen to. but this morning i woke up and read through all the facebook posts and status updates written throughout the weekend. one after another, i read words declaring "2012 will be good, will be great, will be better!"  but what if it's not?   what if it comes and it brings something harder, hotter, heavier?  in 2011, i had a friend who lost his mother, a friend who lost her son, a friend who lost his job, a friend who lost his way, and a friend who lost her battle.  none of it expected.  none of it planned for.  none of it present, or seemingly possible, in their new year's toast just one year ago.  we don't want to think of the unthinkable -- certainly not on new year's eve or new year's day--at least i don't.  i'd much prefer to focus on the kissing and the hugging and the great hoping.

just yesterday morning, i wrote a piece about new hope.  and i believe every word i scratched out in that blog post.  i really am not attempting to contradict myself one bit between these two days, but i felt compelled when i woke again to write a little further, to travel a little look a little deeper into true hope.  not the cross your fingers kind of hope. not the close your eyes and click your heels kind of hope.  i guess that's what i've been reading in some of those facebook comments and it's what i've been hearing on the news or in the supermarket ...  "i sure do hope 2012 is better... i'm going to try harder, work longer, love stronger, play nicer, run faster, be kinder."  but is that really hope? and while resolutions are good and helpful and appropriate, they aren't everything.  we can make all the wonderful resolutions in the world and still wake up on a sunny april day and be told we have cancer.  

i guess what i'm writing about this morning, is that our hope really has to be in something more than a new year.  it has to be in something more than ourselves and our january resolutions.  i am always writing things down. and every new year, since i can remember, i've made a list of things to change, to work on, to improve, to address, to fix.  last year, as i scribbled down my thoughts in my pretty little leather journal, i had no idea a malignant tumor was growing violent in my breast.  had i known, it might have changed what i was writing.  it might have changed what i was thinking. it might have even changed how i was living.  i don't know. i didn't know.

2011 took a lot from me, no doubt it took a lot from me as a woman. but 2011 wasn't in charge.  2011 doesn't have the final say.  2011 is just a year.  and in God's hands it is nothing more than a drop in the bucket,  it is nothing more than an eyelash on eternity.   God who created minutes and months and years and all of time,  He is the holder of 2011 and 2012 and 2013.  and just because i got cancer, doesn't mean He let go for a minute.  it doesn't mean He set down the year and forgot about it or forgot about me.  not one bit.  He held and He continues to hold.  and that is what i am writing about this morning.  our hope can't be in just another new year.  in it, we're sure to fail and fall.  we need something more than just january. we need something more than the fresh flip of a calendar year.  

we walked through those horrific months of cancer and surgery because God was holding us.  it didn't have anything to do with me trying harder or being better or digging deeper,   it was about Him holding tight.  i had to surrender to the full knowledge of His hold.  not that it was easy, i'm a bit of a fighter and kind of an obstinate one at that.  many times through those months i wanted to rip myself from His arms and, like a small child, demand "let me do it!" i wanted the comfort of control.  and then He would patiently and tenderly whisper in my ear, "let go child, let go. I've got you." 

this morning in church our pastor posed a question.  what would happen if you prayed on this new year's day and asked God to do something so great in you and through you that it could only be attributed to God - that only He could be glorified?  just the thought of those words started my heart racing. seriously, i began to sweat in my seat.  because there's a part of me that knows when we pray that prayer it opens up all kinds of possibilities. it throws open the window to some pretty wild what ifs.   do we really mean it?  don't we want to pray that, but also include an addendum of our own suggestions.  like, "dear God, please do something so great in me and through me, but keep my kids safe and keep my health intact and keep my bank account full and keep my marriage thriving."  i don't know about you, but that is how i am tempted to pray -- to pray with conditions.

but then God gave me cancer.  there, i said it.  i know some of you don't believe that.  how can God, who is perfect and loving and good, give something like cancer? oh, i know how crazy that sounds.  but here's the deal:  my hope can only be in a God who has it ALL in control.  not just some of it.  not just the nice things, the sweet things, the pretty things...but ALL of it.  would i want to serve anyone less?  could i serve anything less?  think about it.

and so, today,  january first, i look ahead into another new year.  i know from experience, there could be some pretty hard times around this winter corner.  i know from 2011 this next year gives no guarantee of grief-free living.  but my true hope, my real hope,  is not in the happy highlights of these next 12 months.  my only hope is in the one who holds this year--all of it.  the good and the bad.

and though i don't know what the future holds, i do know who holds the future.

"may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."  ~ romans 15:13

note:  2011 also brought a bit of surprise for mike and meritt sims (mentioned at the top of this post) today they left for china.  the sims are on their way to their new daughters maggie and mary henley.   they are adopting these two girls (exactly bella's age!) from two different provinces.  mike and meritt have a college senior, a high school senior and an 8th grader.  follow them at the THE SEVEN SIMS. amazing

1 comment:

Aus said...

Good morning my friend - Happy New Year! While it's a common wish this time of day - it IS heart felt!

And while perhaps it's still too 'close' - I hear more when you say things like "2011 took a lot from me, no doubt it took a lot from me as a woman". Something I know without knowing is that your husband has said many times that you are as much a woman now as you were before cancer. But I'll second that - you are as brilliant and beautiful today as you were this time last year!

2011 may have 'taken' from you - but it also has given to you too..."...'cuase after all it's what we've done that makes us who we are..." (Jim Croce 1973) You are more that you ever were before!

Only the best of things for you and yours in 2012!!