I welcome 2012 like a cool surf on a warm beach morning. I leave behind a year of transition, and quite frankly, months of frustration.
One year ago, in January, I wrote in my journal these words:
My big, extraordinary circumstance for this year is whether to move to Indiana or stay in Colorado…I’ll walk wherever God leads, albeit severe difficulties…
On this cold and windy evening, one year later, I sit in my home office with a Rocky Mountain landscape adorning the western wall and a window overlooking an Indiana countryside. Moving across the country straddles so many facets of life. Patterns change. Habits. Comforts. Familiarity. And often, we change.
How our circumstances change isn’t always up to us, but how we respond to that change is.
And I’ve been a bit of a grouch…for months. Moving my family 1,000 miles, even to a familiar place (our Indiana hometown), would seem easy, but writing this new chapter has proved as rough as swallowing sandpaper.
Moving twice in 8 months—once to our temporary residence with my in-laws and again to our new home just one week before Christmas—simply put, has sucked. Starting our three children in new and unfamiliar schools at ages 15, 12, and 11, is not a comforting experience for parent or child. A new job—like all new jobs—brings its own set of demands and challenges. And saying goodbye to dear friends and the mountains my family loves will wrench even the strongest of heart.
Even with the many positive reasons to relocate (and there are many), that much change puts life on hold. For a guy like me who has goals, plans—a vision even, for his family and future—putting life on hold is not a place I like to linger. But here’s what has helped me make it through:
Pray without ceasing. We read in the Bible to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). More oft than not, my unceasing prayers in the car have resembled angry shouts at God instead of the two verses sandwiching verse 17, which say “Be joyful always” and “give thanks in all circumstances.” But God is big enough to handle my shouting. And when I pray, I know He is listening.
Stay in the Word. “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (Psalm 119:32.) There is no substitute for the truth of God’s Word. Power dwells in its words, the power to calm my shouting and frustration despite how I feel. I’ve had to force myself to sit and read it. Sometimes I just refused and pushed it aside. But my refusal is proof enough that something positive occurs inside of us when we read it. When we sit in a pity pool, we naturally only allow in whatever amplifies, and thus justifies in our mind, our emotions. The Bible, contrarily, draws us out of the stench, but it usually requires us letting go of our emotions and our blame before joy can wash away our pain.
God has a plan, and it is good. Despite how life changes course, and no matter how difficult the new path, God will use it to grow us and reveal more of how much He really does love us. The difficulty won’t last forever, and peace can exist within a storm (think Jesus sleeping on the fishing boat amidst a brutal storm, Matthew 8:23-27). God is not freaking out because we are. If we let Him, He’ll use those situations for something important down the road, whether for us or for another. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11.)
Small things trump the big ones. It’s cliche`, but it’s true. The small things matter most. Give thanks for every blessing we have, and I mean every single one. Write them down. Count them. Thank God for each one, out loud. Although I don’t feel thankful at times, I’ll thank Him anyway. For my wife. For my children. For my relatives and friends. For my health. For my car. For my job. For food to eat. For clean drinking water. For a roof. For clothing. For rain. For sunshine. For sleep. For forgiveness. For freedom. For love. And yes, even difficulty—not for the problem itself but for the good that waits on the other side.
This time, I’m not walking into the new year with hopes that it will be a “better” year. Seems I re-live that mantra every New Year’s Eve. The only thing that improves is how fast I close the curtains on last year and re-open them to what’s really the same stage. Let’s be honest. The only thing different come January 1 is the calendar, and if we’re lucky, we might get to sleep in.
No, instead I’m walking into 2012 hoping that I will find the strength to overcome the challenges I will face in the new year, and the ones I still face today. To pray my engine doesn’t break down with every bump in the road. To choose a positive attitude when life isn’t smooth, and when easy only comes after “eggs over.” And to believe the result will give hope to at least one other person. To make a positive difference.
God bless, and here’s to a wonderful, life-changing new year.