It’s 10:48 pm on October 27, and I’ve got a birthday in a little over an hour. Something about that always makes me feel a little reflective; a little nostalgic, even. Another 365 days of life gone by. Another trip full-circle around the sun. I always wonder at the end of a year if I got everything out of it that I could have. Some of that is just a chronic case of middle-child FOMO (fear of missing out).
I think some of it is valid, though. A desire to live well, to take opportunities when I should, and to be still when necessary and actually be in certain moments without chasing another one. Did I love big and grieve well? Did I give more than I took? Did I learn from the places I failed? These are the kinds of questions I ask myself at the end of a year when I’m wanting to know, “Did I do that OK?”
This year, though, y’all. It was a whirlwind. We planted a church and ran like crazy to try to keep up with all the ways God has been growing it. We tried our best to learn how to be winter mountain people when all we’ve ever known is the South (come, Jesus). We moved across the country and then moved again, just across town.
We wrestled through messy things like how to respond as the Church in the midst of a global refugee crisis, a desperate need for racial reconciliation in our nation, and a really confusing, hate-filled election season.
We flew to the other side of the world and looked in the eyes of Syrian friends who had lost everything, and we sat with them and allowed our hearts to break with theirs, and we told them they hadn’t been forgotten. I still can’t imagine the ache of longing for home and family and wondering if you’ll ever see it — or them — again.
I made dear new friends this year, the kind you know from very early on will be forever friendships. I welcomed another niece into the world and grieved all over again that the cost of my “yes” to Jesus is knowing I’ll watch them grow up from afar. I walked through the highest highs and lowest lows of surprise pregnancy followed by miscarriage, and I stepped right back into brave, terrifying hope as we continued down the road of adoption through it all.
And in looking back at all of this, here’s what I think I’ve realized: twenty-five was a year of being shaken to my core. Twenty-six was a year of healing, and realizing I don’t really care what’s mine on this side of Heaven, because everything I long for already resides in eternity. Which maybe sets me up really well for twenty-seven… Empty handed and totally free, in the best kind of way.
I want to learn how to celebrate again this year. We have been through some heavy things this year. Not just personally, but in our community, in our nation, and in the nations of the world. Yet somehow in the Kingdom of Heaven there is this redemptive quality of allowing every place of ache and longing and loss to be primed and prepared for redemption.
I feel primed and prepared for redemption.
We’re getting emails all the time right now about birth moms and babies out there, just waiting for someone to choose us. That is the most vulnerable and exposing thing I have ever done. And somehow, something in me can’t wait to throw a party.
I think maybe something happens in us when we’ve seen enough of the darkness, where we just believe all the more that the light has to be coming. Not in a rite-of-passage, I’ve paid my dues in suffering kind of way. That’s not who God is. I just think maybe I left my life on the altar long enough to see the smoke clear, and I’m realizing hope didn’t burn away.
I love that about hope. About Jesus.
I want to live inside of the reality of a resurrected, walked-through-the-fire-but-not-burned life this year. Regardless of who’s sitting in the oval office, or when I hold a baby in my arms with the last name Gilmore, or how many more global tragedies I live through. Resurrected people are the kind of people who change the world in such a way that those other things look different one day.
So, here’s to learning to celebrate again. I’m just kind of ready to feel alive.