The month after Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. OK, I hate the snow and the wind and the ice. I hate how cold and dreary the world becomes. But I love the freshness of considering the past year and starting anew. I love the hope that perhaps this year will be better than the year before. I love the possibility for new dreams, goals, and ideas to come to fruition. A lot can happen in a year, and it is always possible that some of those things that happen will be wonderful things.
This year I am moving into a lot of unknowns. The first three weeks of January are laid out on my calendar, and I feel a small surge of dread every time I look and see how busy they will be. Next week I will start working three half days a week. I have other events scheduled into the cracks – a doctor’s appointment, supervision, extra work meeting. Extra events have all collided into the first three weeks of January. Not to mention, when will I cook and clean and do all those other things that have to be done? It will be a true test of what my body is able to handle.
Will I be up for the task? Will this new job be manageable? Where will my writing take me in this coming year, and will I even have time for it? Will my blog fizzle out – do I even have anything else to say? How will I make my book public without loosing this safe place I have created? What comes next?
There are infinite questions tangled in my mind that are causing an underlying sense of worry that surfaces every time I consider what lies ahead. The worry is grounded in my fear of severe relapse. It is grounded in a fear of one of those flares that you never recover from. Three time since chronic pain started I have had relapses that I never recovered from, and it is this fear that underlies all of my other fears.
As I consider this fear, I realize that more than anything else I want 2016 to be a year of peace. A year in which my heart is well and sure and content and filled with courage. A year in which I can look into the future, not knowing what is next, and still be a rest. I want 2016 to be a year in which I step out into the unknown, taking one day at a time, trusting, depending, knowing that I don’t know the future, but God does.
How do I get to this place? I am not quite sure. I know all the right answers. I know all the right theology. But I think back to two days ago when I was all a mess over how work would go the next day. I think back to last night right after I got home from work as I worried over how sustainable this job is. Worry. Fear. Restlessness. Anxiety. No peace.
I know all the things I am supposed to know, yet still my heart is so often not at rest. I know that God is near and present. I know he holds the future. I know that heaven awaits. I know to present my requests before God with thanksgiving. I know that each day holds enough trouble of it’s own, and that I should not worry about tomorrow. I know all these things, and still my heart considers the worst case scenario. Still my heart desperately fears going to places as bad as or worse than where I have been before.
Yesterday I considered how we turn this knowledge of truth into a true belief and living out of truth. How do we turn what we know into what we believe and do?
I started reading through Philippians because it has a lot to say about joy and peace and being ok in the worst of times. It talks about prayer and thanksgiving, spreading the gospel, living for Christ, putting aside earthly gains, looking towards heaven, and thinking on things that are true and noble. And right at the end in Philippians 4:9 Paul says, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Practice these things. Practice these things and God’s peace will be with you.
And so that is what I plan to do in 2016. To practice peace. To take those things that Paul taught and lived out and wrote about in Philippians and other books and consider what it means to practice over and over again. To practice these things until they actually settle into my heart.
I am not sure all of the things that I need to practice. I am not sure all of the repetitions that I will need to do over and over again. But that will be part of the journey, part of the discovery, and part of the learning.
I hope for 2016 to be a year of peace.
What do you hope for?