I’m not really a “new year’s resolutions” girl. Despite that, there is something about switching from December to January that stirs up some specific things in my soul, mainly a desire for the new.
I love a new day, a new journal, a new month, a new school year, a new pair of socks. I long for newness and delight in a clean slate.
Until this year I must admit that I got annoyed at the social media posts that seem to surface around the year end where people bashed the year before, saying they “can’t wait” for a year to be over and to start a new one. I may have rolled my eyes once or twice… until this year where that was me.
2018 had so many great things but also was one of the hardest years of my life so far. I desperately longed for it to be over, desperately longed for newness.
But here’s the thing: just because the clock hits midnight on a certain December date doesn’t mean everything instantly changes. It works in Disney movies but not real life. I think that’s why I found myself rolling my eyes at post in the past (and at myself this year.) It’s just another day, like any other day.
January 1 might not change things, but I don’t have to stay where I was… I can change things and that’s really what I was feeling heading into 2019… that I needed to change. Whether the circumstances that made 2018 challenging continued or not, I HAD to find new ways in this new year to look at them.
In preparing for a trip last week, I skimmed through the books on my shelf and those available for digital checkout from the library to take along and came across Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts”. I’ve read this before, shortly after I came out. I loved it then, I’m loving it now. The lessons are nothing new, but the reminders so necessarily in this season.
“Joy is the realist reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.”
Joy. Yes, that’s what I want in 2019. That’s what’s been missing lately. Life. I was a full life.
“Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.”
Rejecting joy. As strange as it sound, I know that. But choosing joy is the better way… a smack-in-the-face to the hard of life to say, “You can’t steal my joy.” Oh and light… that feels right too. In a dark, dark world we all need light. And so, as the author Ann does, I start counting the gifts.
Yes, this is the greatest gift in this new year, a gift that comes from counting the other gifts.
2. Clouds, white and fluffy, a blanket in the sky
17. Chick-Fil-a waffle fries
21. Seeing young adults studying the Bible unprompted
36. a little girl in a wheelchair dancing with her daddy
And as the January days tick by and the list grows longer, hope grows, joy renews, light breaks in…
58. the fact that I got paid today to spend the day in Florida with a group of awesome young women playing mini golf, swimming in the pool, and dressing up as giant gift in a Christmas parade
59. Friends who check in and truly care
66. Banana with peanut butter
And I list the hard gifts too, the things we don’t want to be thankful for but can see God in, the gifts that come alongside the hard…
78. Grace to cry
79. Vulnerability and honesty in safe places
91. Scrapping plates in the dish room (not the glamorous job, but joy is found in humility too)
144. Access to health care (even if I see the gift in a week of too many medical appointments and being sick in the first place)
164. People who hold out hope for you when you can’t and honestly can say “I know what it feels like…”
And as I count the gifts, these words from another favorite book jump off the page confirming this challenge, this dare:
“We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” Colossians 1:11-14
Joy that comes in thanking the Father.
An inheritance that’s secure.
Rescue from darkness.
Living in light.
Yes, I’ll count the gifts. The hard ones too. For the Giver is a a good one and he loves me, his dear daughter. And I guess this no-resolution girl has a resolution after all… to keep counting the blessings this year… maybe even two thousand and nineteen of them… maybe even more.
Because in counting the gifts, I find glimmers of joy.
In counting the gifts, I discover light for myself and light for the world.
In counting the gifts, I fight for hope.