Well here it is: the last day of 2013. Hallelujah!
I don't know about you, but I am happy to see it go. This year I have seen friends betrayed. I have seen people make poor choices and cause others to suffer for those choices. I have been a part of too many tearful phone calls and have had to brace myself for more uncomfortable conversations than I care to recall. This has been a year that has truly been "life-changing." You may have been one of those who has called on me during this year. If so, know that I have counted it as an honor and a privilege to have helped you through your dark time. I have had my share of them. I know. I know. I have never once minded talking with you and praying with you and crying with you. I just hated that we had to be doing it in the first place.
You may have been one of those whom I called on when my head almost exploded. Hey, thanks for being there. Thanks for praying for me. For taking time from all the mess you had going on to get on your knees and go to the God of All on my behalf. I needed it. It worked. Some of you told me to quit my miserable job and I did. Thanks for that. You even told me that my hair looked nice when I was in the hospital. I needed that, too.
As bad as 2013 has been, it has also had its rewards; if the bad stuff hadn't happened, I wouldn't have drawn as near to the Lord as I have. I have pleaded to Him for my own health and well-being as well as for my dear friends and family. I have called on Him for strength and courage and kindness and compassion and wisdom in ways that I never have before. I have sought His Face at the top of majestic mountains and in the deepest valleys. He has been there. And will continue to be there. He promised.
So I stand ready to turn the page on the calendar. Tear that thing right off the wall. Shred it. Toss it out with the burned-out strand of lights and the expired egg nog.
Sort-of. Because when we begin a new year it means beginning it without the loved ones we had to say goodbye to. It's another milestone that they will not be a part of. We'll do things without them and that feels weird. In the first few years following the death of my mother, I remember not wanting anything new. "Something New" was something she had not seen, had not been a part of, and I felt as though I was betraying her and her memory by experiencing it. I later came to terms with all of this with the help of the Holy Spirit guiding me through Scripture. I realized that death and heaven were her reward, not her punishment, and that she was experiencing the best kind of "new." It was ok for me to laugh and smile and do new things here on earth, because she's having a great time with Jesus and I will too, one day.
So we can turn that calendar page, knowing that God is omnipotent and that we go into this fresh, New Year with Him as our strength and our guide and our help. There are unknown and unexpected opportunities for us to share His love and His message of hope and eternal life and I pray that I will not miss one of them. I ask His guidance on all that I do and say and that it all will be pleasing to Him.
I pray that for you, too. Whoever is reading this, may you have the confidence and the knowledge that, whoever you are or have been, God loves you and wants His best for you. Go into this year knowing that. Tell Him your troubles and ask His forgiveness. Forgive those who have wounded you. You don't need to carry that into 2014, either. It's not going to do anyone any good. Just let it go, along with the burned-out lights and the expired egg nog.
Happy New Year!