It’s been a year. Not a good year. Not a bad year. Not a big year or a little year. Just a year.
As I get older, I am learning that this is a blessing.
God shows his strength and his provision and his unfailing love in the years where we are shaken and sifted. Where we transition and change. Where big choices are made and the roller coaster dips.
But God shows his faithfulness. His steadiness. His “be still and know” in the years where not much changes at all.
Ask me nine months ago if I felt steady or faithful or still and I probably would have laughed at you. But looking back, taking all the little moments and wrapping them with a neat bow and calling them a year…
It’s been steady. And faithful. And in all the little things, it’s been big.
Our girl became a big sister this year. He wasn’t born this year, but her heart for him was. It grew and swelled and she fell in love and it was beautiful to watch.
He became a little person. Full of spunk and joy and personality. We learned that he loves people. And he is silly. And he likes Coke. And he is becoming curiouser and curiouser.
For the first time in seven years (probably longer, actually) my husband had a steady, “forever” job. There was no more waiting or wondering when the next door would open. There was no question of moving or changing or transitioning- again. He was settled. And blessed. And growing. And learning. And finally able to become the man who he had been wanting to become. All the years of jobs just to get by and every spare moment finishing school. Finally.
And then there’s me. What has become of me? I haven’t slept in a year. I fight teenage battles from a four year old mouth. My classroom is ever changing. My blog has fallen silent… along with my sewing machine and my journal and my Bible and my dreams. I trudge deep in the trenches of motherhood and constantly wonder if I’m doing something wrong because everyone else seems to handle this better than me. I’m waiting. But I’m not sure what for.
Waiting for school to start? Waiting for him to sleep through the night? Waiting for her to learn to control her emotions? Waiting for more time or a more organized schedule or a normal class? I don’t even know.
This year my word was “Grow in Grace.” Did I do that? Did I grow in grace with my children? Did I grow in grace with my family? With my coworkers?
Grace- What God does for me that I do not deserve.
Oh goodness. (insert revelation RIGHT HERE)
For 362 days I have thought that word was only for other people. That I was to grow in showing grace. In being gracious. In practicing patience and love. In giving grace to my children and my husband and my family and my coworkers and my friends.
Yet here I am. Three days out from starting a new year and I am just now realizing that I have grown exponentially under the umbrella of God’s amazing grace for me.
Only in reflection do I now see how incredible his Grace has been to me this past year. Showering me, no… flooding me with grace.
It’s been a hard year emotionally. Never feeling like enough. Struggling with how to handle my ever-changing children. Feeling constantly at the end of my rope and ever-wading through emotional struggles and daily duties that come with being a wife, mother, friend, daughter, human. But as I have struggled and struggled and struggled to show grace to my people – and honestly, felt like I’ve failed- God opens my eyes now. At the end of it all. And shows me that it was HIS Grace I was growing in all along.
Because I am short-tempered with my kids.
Because I do easily get hurt by others.
Because I constantly feel like I’m falling behind.
Because I don’t do anything as consistently as I would like.
Because I fail monthly at sticking to my grocery budget.
Because I spend too much time staring at screens.
Because I write about how I want to live, but don’t live it.
Because I cannot shake these few pounds (and honestly haven’t even tried).
Because I hate doing dishes.
Because I feel full of excuses.
Because I have lived 34 years and still struggle to navigate the waters of relationships.
Because my house is still cluttered no matter how many times I ‘spring clean.’
Because I don’t ______________ like I should. (fill in that blank with anything and I’ve felt it this year)
Because I still can’t let go of things.
Because I open my mouth when I should just keep it shut.
Because I am selfish with my time and my relationships and my money.
Because I am far, far, far from giving the grace and showing the love that I should.
Now I see. Despite all of my best efforts (and despite all of my non-efforts) God has shown me unbelievable grace. I’m completely overwhelmed right now. You tricky devil, you. You take a whole year. A WHOLE YEAR.
Just letting me live in my crazy trying and trying and failing and failing and spinning and spinning and struggling and struggling. I’ve repeated “Grow in Grace” to myself a thousand times over the past year. When the baby was screaming. When my husband sat on the couch while I spun in circles trying to manage the house. When I begged for a night out only to return home unfulfilled and feeling guilty. When my girl melted down a hundred times over the same thing. When I opened my mouth in discontentment. When I judged ruthlessly. When I couldn’t let go of a hurtful word. When I was disappointed. When I tried and tried and tried to do enough and always fell short. When I wasn’t kind enough or patient enough or organized enough or busy enough or still enough or early enough or wise enough or quiet enough or gracious enough.
You let me try. You let me fail.
And now on the eve of the New Year you whisper “Grow in My Grace.”
Because all of that muck up there is the real me. I’m a real mess. And when I try to do it all myself and I try to become who God wants me to be, I am bound to fail EPICALLY. But God is so good. And his ways are so beautiful. And his love is so unfailing and unending and steady and faithful. That over my mess and over my crazy, He gives grace.
In my efforts to giVe grace- and falling tragically short- I have discovered just how unbelievable his umbrella of Grace is over me.
And that…? Well, that changes everything.