A notification popped up on my Facebook newsfeed: “Your year in review – see your best memories from this year.” I clicked on the link, and I must admit I was disappointed. My entire year – a year of seeing God’s faithfulness, a year that was humbling, challenging, and good – was summed up in a paltry collection of seven pictures, all but one either being from our family photos in July or being from a week ago. (Granted, had I posted more photos, there would have been more to see!) My year was so much more than what Facebook remembered – or what people saw.
What is my “Year in Review” then? It is dozens of moments deepening friendships through shared laughter, sorrows, and stories. It was the unexpected renewing of a precious friendship I had resigned myself to setting aside. It was God’s surprising me with new opportunities, perspectives, and solutions even when I felt I was floundering. It was the relentless grace of my God shown through my family and friends as I tried – and failed – to be self-sufficient. It was knowing what the right thing was – and being so terrified of doing it that I couldn’t stop shaking as I did it.
This year was the writing and posting of thirty-odd blogs, some painstakingly written over a number of years and finally completed. It was the reality of late nights and early mornings as an RA. (I am always perfectly serious when I say that I get weird when I am up too late). It was the warmth of family and home – a love that I have learned to carry with me wherever I go. It was CLEP tests, extra hours at work, and the seemingly endless renditions of “Step by Step” I sang to the little kiddos I watched as they drifted off to sleep. It was the struggle of learning how to “let go and let God,” trusting Him completely – and the awe of watching Him begin to fit the pieces together in ways I could never have imagined.
My year was every quiet moment, every worship-filled dance, every frustrated huff, every cry of grief, and every joyous triumph. And there isn’t a picture for that.
This year has been challenging mentally, physically, and emotionally; God has been stretching me, expanding my vision, and humbling me as only He can. It was a year of growth and maturing. I entered 2015 with my joy exhausted and my hope hanging on by a thread; I leave this year with passionate joy and an unshakeable confidence in the faithfulness of my God, who is my Hope. And there aren’t pictures enough to show the beauty of it all as I have learned to embrace the days of grace. There are no longer good days and bad days – as Graham Cooke says, there are only days of grace as we come to recognize the relentless kindness of our Heavenly Father.
Sometimes what we see is only part of the story. My dear friends, what is the reality of your year in review? Are you allowing your story to be defined by the goodness of God, or does it feel as superficial as a disappointing social media summary? Are you are always scrutinizing your life, worrying about how others might see it? Are there hurts or habits tainting your memories of this year?
For me, this has been a year of rediscovering joy and hope, and now the coming year is going to be different: a year of courage – courage to step into the fullness of what God has for me. We all experience different seasons; some are lovely and some challenging, but all are overflowing with grace if we are willing to accept it. I am going to celebrate the turn of the New Year with a night of worship in the company of dear friends. I can think of no better way for me to thank the God of miracles for all He has done, is doing, and will still do. Sometimes, there aren’t pictures; it is up to us to be intentional about the memories we keep. As 2015 draws to a close, I encourage you to boldness: ask God to review your year. What did He do this year, and what is He doing now? Let your final authority in defining your story be the One who knows the end from the beginning and whose nature is relentlessly, perfectly Good in every way.
As you enjoy the final hours of this year, take a few moments to listen to this song: “God of Miracles” by Chris McClarney. May you embrace the coming year with the fullness of hope as you expect to see the goodness of our God.
Happy New Year, my friends!