Last night my family sat around the dinner table for one last time in 2019. We shared a homemade Tex-Mex burrito bowl feast (what else, right?!) and looked back over the year that was Two-Thousand Nineteen. My wife keeps notes on a calendar of all the events, both minor and major, which made up the year, and we spend some time reading back over them, laughing and crying together.
To be honest, 2019 was brutal. Not just for us, but for so many we know and love. As such, I wasn’t too upset to wave it goodbye last night. My family weathered an extremely difficult, long and trying season which affected all 5 of us profoundly. In the midst of that season, I was in the throes of a depression deeper than any I’ve ever known. A few days ago I sat and went through my journal covering only the last few months of the year and was reminded of just how dark that time was.
Much to my surprise, as we went around the table and shared our highs and lows of the year, there were profound moments of joy in it for each of us. Oh, there were tears as we recounted the lows, but there was the unmistakeable thread of grace and redemption running through them all, like the seams of a patchwork quilt. 2019 was hard, painfully hard, but hearing my kids had found good even in the sorrows, well…that was a good reminder to this tired soul that very little in life that comes easy brings lasting joy; it’s born, more often than not, in the trial.
There are loads of cliches I could write at this point, and though I’m loathe to do so, the truth is some cliches become just that because, well, they’re true, and the truth is anything worth having is worth fighting for. We all experienced this truth in different ways in 2019. No, it wasn’t easy, but here, at the end looking back, it’s worth it.
Today, as I write from our living room on a windy Oklahoma New Year’s Day, if you were a fly on the wall, you might not notice any great outward change in us. My son is jumping around playing Star Wars and talking about LEGOs. My youngest daughter is watching a cooking show while my oldest is in the front room painting. My wife is reading a new book and I’m clicking keys on my laptop, trying to find words to sum up what was, and what I hope will be. Outwardly, not much different than Jan 1, 2019, but if you look inside, deep down, you’d see change in us all. We are not the same 5 people that walked into 2019.
What do I hope for in 2020? Well, I’ll keep most of that to myself and my family. I expect we’ll have ups and we’ll have downs, as will you. I expect we’ll have joys and also sorrows (more than likely, ones we don’t see coming). I expect there will be dark days and light as well, but through them I hope the memories of 2019 will ring like struck crystal with this truth:
But this I call to mind,Lamentations 3:21-23
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Happy New Year everyone.