Saturday, January 2, 2016

Renewed Hope for the New Year

Every year on New Year's Eve people expect to experience magic at the stroke of midnight. New Year's Eve has friends throwing parties, families enjoying and celebrating each other's company, and old movie buffs watching "An Affair to Remember" with a box of tissues close at hand.

The new year is a blank slate and we get to craft and design how we hope it will develop. We make lists of goals, wants, and desires. We start organizing our lives, families, homes, rooms, and living spaces in hopes of giving ourselves the best opportunity to be productive and successful. 

Sometimes our plans for the year go just as we envisioned, and sometimes everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. It really is a crapshoot as to which direction the year will take.

Right out of the gate, 2015 detoured from the path we had carefully crafted and lined out for our family. As the year progressed and 2015 was showing itself to be a year filled with change and stress, I started wishing for 2015 to hurry up and just be over and done with. I was ready to experience the magic of a new year, preferably a year that went according to the plans we had laid out.

As the holidays came upon us, friends would ask how things were going. Instead of wanting to go through the litany of issues we were dealing with, I began responding with "is it 2016 yet?". The thought of being able to kiss 2015's challenges away at the stroke of midnight was, quite simply, glorious.

While navigating our way through the food coma known in America as Thanksgiving Day, there was a little whisper in my heart to look back over the whole year before it came to a close. The pessimist in me started going through a litany of the extremely difficult days we had experienced. It was quite the laundry list of challenges.

After Thanksgiving, we began decorating our home for Christmas. With the unpacking of Christmas lights and ornaments, our children's excitement for the holidays began to build, causing us to put a little extra love and effort into decorating.

As we all got into the Christmas spirit and looked for more ways to "Christmas-up" our home, that little voice inside me, the same little rascal who told me at Thanksgiving to look back on the year, was now telling me to look harder and to dig deeper. It pushed for me to open the eyes of my heart and look at all of the good we experienced in the midst of the hell we had walked through. 

While my husband and kids were outside creating a light display to rival Clark Griswold's spectacle in Christmas Vacation, I sat down and closed my eyes. In those quiet moments I saw how my family was never alone. Not even once. In every single moment of difficulty and trial, there was a physical presence with us, holding our hands, calming our fears, and whispering in our hearts that He was (and continues to be) with us.

From that point on, as each day edged us ever closer to the new year, my opinion of 2015 changed. Yes, 2015 was a very difficult and trying year, but it was also a year where we experienced unprecedented strength, faith, and hope.

As we move into 2016, I know we will have continued challenges and obstacles to overcome, but this year I am carrying with me a strength and determination which could have only come from the fire we walked through in 2015. 

Just as the Psalmist says, He refined us and made us stronger. 2015 wasn't the prettiest of years but it will be one of our most memorable and, at some point in the future, there will be things we will look back on and find humor.

Here's to hoping and praying that life is able to stay on the path this crazy redhead has laid out for 2016. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Happy New Year to each and every one of you! Now enough of the deep stuff, let's get back to finding the humor in all of life's craziness.

Christie Bielss