Welp! The holidays are officially over and normal life has resumed at full speed over here. The last two weeks have thrust me abruptly back into the swing of things and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it. I’m also not sure how I feel about the word “thrust” but nevermind that.
I wouldn’t say our Christmas break was mellow because for the better part of two weeks we hosted all of my husband’s family, and often all of my family which totals about 14 people, 3 dogs, 36 meals, 43,000 coffee pods, 27 toilet paper rolls, and countless laughs and memories. It was a regular Griswold Family Christmas. However, it was leisurely and unstructured and I quite miss the element of freedom to just hang out.
I found myself flustered multiple times last week, annoyed at the knowledge that once opened my eyes my entire day was mapped out for me when all I really wanted to do was sip coffee and stare out the window. I find this temptation to be a real trap for me lately. It’s becoming a problem.
The views at the Forever House are truly gorgeous. After four months of living here, it has yet to get old. In the mornings the field is frosty white and the fog hovers in layers making everything feel sort of suspended and ethereal. In the middle of the day the neighbor’s horses get playful and wild, suddenly making sense of the phrase “horsing around.” In the afternoon everyday around 4pm the sun starts to dip behind the mountain and the colors become so vibrant that everything seems to glow. These days I find myself staring for copious amounts of time, held captive by the sights outside my window. If you ask me, I really shouldn’t be held responsible for this. It can’t be helped. I know I’ve said it before but there is an intangibly peaceful quality to living in the country.
It does something good for my soul.
Speaking of my soul…I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying and general taking-stock as I always do around this time of year. It just seems like a natural progression for me. The holidays are full and busy and they carry me through the end of the year with a flurry, but once all the dust settles and the Christmas decor is boxed up I have a serious urge to clean house. Both literally and metaphorically. I always give my home a good once-over in January, cleaning every drawer, every baseboard, every cupboard, every window, etc. While I’m organizing and cleaning like a crazy lady I usually tend to turn my thoughts inward and reflect on where I’m at in life. I don’t know why. It’s just my process. I love the closure of it all. A year is over. Let’s wrap it up. Time to turn my attention to the year ahead.
As I’ve shared with you before, for the last 4 years I have prayerfully chosen a word to be a sort of theme for the year. Not a resolution exactly, because that would just stress me out, but more of a conversation piece with God throughout the year. This practice has been good for me, because I tend to throw a lot of chatter at God. When I’m choosing my word I find myself learning to be quiet and still and unguarded with my heart. I find myself actually listening for his voice.
Last year my word was Diligent.
Can I just be honest and say that I feel like I pretty much sucked at my word? Like all year long? Is that okay to say?
I would love to tell you how wonderful and transformative and wildly successful my word was for me but I’m going to put on my “let’s be real here” pants (those pants look a lot like yoga pants, by the way) and tell you that I was not in fact, very diligent at all.
At least not in the way I expected to be.
There. Just lowering the bar for you, folks! You’re welcome.
Don’t get me wrong, I love it when it really works out and the word I chose in January actually winds up having been wonderfully transformative come December. It’s been that way for me most other years.
2014 was kind of strange for me though.
A lot of things changed: my kids grew taller, my address changed, friendships were made, a lot of good things happened. But internally I was stuck in a bit of a holding pattern.
I kept waiting.
Waiting for the Forever House. Waiting to get in shape. Waiting for parenting to be easier. Waiting for a new level of intimacy in my marriage. Waiting for all those things I just listed to make me feel happy and content and less afraid in general. I really wasted a lot of time barking up the wrong tree.
Luckily God is super resourceful and he used the small amount of time I’d set aside for him (one short weekend in the wilderness in December) to show me that I was looking for my joy, my identity, my comfort, my peace, my validation, and my happiness in every wrong thing. GOOD things maybe, but WRONG things.
In his unending goodness he did not allow any of them to satisfy me. He also showed me that I’ve been a person who is largely ruled by fear. I operate, parent, love my husband, and live my life from a place rooted in fear.
“Fear” is a very vague term but it’s also a vicious beast with it’s finger on my pulse and a chokehold on my neck. Fear is a joy-killer. Fear wants to take me out.
I’m afraid of losing the comfortable life I have. I’m afraid of people not liking me. I’m afraid of tragedy, to the point that I hold my breath and wait for it, tiptoeing through my life like it’s a mine field. I’m afraid that I’ll do a bang-up job with my kids. I’m afraid that they won’t truly know and love Jesus because I will fail to show them how. I’m afraid that I myself won’t know and love Jesus in that deep, close, intimate, sure way that I long to.
I’m afraid that my desire for a safe and comfortable life with a nice marriage and nice kids and a nice house will undermine God’s plan for GREAT.
For adventure and danger and romance.
The romance was where he got to me. With romance he pierced me. Like a nail driven in and through, sending splinters all across my heart.
When I read the definition I knew this was my word for 2015.
This is how my God loves me!
I want everything about this kind of love.
I want to receive it and give it back to him.
I want this love to cleanse me, define me, embolden me, compel me, move me, strip me, change me, equip me, and consume me.
I know God wants to write new adventures in my love story in 2015 and I don’t want to miss out on them. I want to be so swept up in a romance with him that there is no room leftover for fear, doubt, selfishness, or laziness.
A lot of people would say that the opposite of love is hate, or maybe even indifference. But I think the opposite of love is closer to fear. If I really understood the way God loves me, then what on earth would there be left to fear?
1 John 4:18 “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”
In 2015 I want to experience God’s love fiercely, tenderly, wholly. I want to embrace the adventure and danger of whatever he writes into my story. I want to let go of fear and the false safety of a guarded heart because just as C.S. Lewis says, “He is not safe, but He is good.”