I have soaked up all of the 10-year recaps and year-end summaries that flooded the internet this past week as we welcomed 2020. Between those and the Christmas cards that I tore open and taped to our doorway throughout December, I have been filled with all the warm fuzzies from thoughtful and inspiring reflections. Really, it’s been great. It’s a beautiful thing to see how people have changed and grown through both the hard and the good.
Yet, as the reflections and the cards came in, I couldn’t help feeling a little heavy hearted, too. I thought about the friends and family who have suffered real tragedy, encountered staggering changes, or who have prayed and longed these past 10 years for life to look different than the way it is right now. I thought about my own story and the end of a short-lived career that left me heartbroken and humiliated. I looked at the baggage and the scars that I picked up in the last decade, and the relationships that have either disintegrated or become messier now than they were back then. Of course there have been new, beautiful, and wonderful things too: marriage, babies, friends, houses, vacations; things that I can and ought to recall with thanksgiving and awe. I have plenty of #blessed moments to produce a 10-year recap which outshines the heartache.
But I wonder, what if that isn’t the case for you? What if the good doesn’t outweigh the bad? Or what if your mind and heart are in a place where even the good things are eclipsed by depression or anxiety? How do you enter a new 10-year span if you can’t look back on the last one without tears welling in your eyes?
So, if this was not your decade…
You don’t have to tie it up in a bow of gumption to procure strength and good perspective in the one to come. If you’re leaving this decade more disappointed or stagnant or even marred than how you entered it, you’re allowed to feel disappointed about it. If you can’t think of a witty and inspirational way to express how you’ve come out on top of 2019, don’t feel like you should.
It’s ok to be stuck; not because the next decade will necessarily be better, and not because there is some power to be gained in surrendering to the hardship. It’s ok to be stuck for one reason: because God has you, wherever you are. In your pit of depression, in your grieving, in your longing, in your exhaustion, in your disillusionment: believer, He has you. You don’t have to muster up a grateful perspective or the resolve to improve. He meets you in the depths. You don’t have to feel His grasp. He has you all the same, and He loves you.
The hope and optimism of His story of victory over death and sadness are more than all that you need for inspiration to carry on in 2020. So rest in Him, or yell at Him if you need to; but know that you are seen and delighted in by the One who resolved to save us.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Romans 8:18-25 ESV