I pause each year to reflect, to give thanks, to mark progress, and to look ahead with hope of more much-needed growth in time to come. As I worked in our home yesterday, I pondered over the things I consider to be the most important that I’ve learned in my 43 years.
One of the most essential understandings is the need to account for what we do not know. Recognizing the vastness that lies beyond our knowing helps to orient us rightfully both toward God who knows all and to others who have their own stories, their own inner journey that is different from all others.
I’ve learned these lessons over time, both from my individual life and from the lives of those I’ve been blessed to sit with in private moments of deep pain. At the bedside of countless hurting patients during my years of work in the hospital, listening to painful stories of loss and hurt, it did not escape my notice that each person held a silence in the midst of sharing when words trailed off. These times of silence held the most startling truth and opened my heart to the understanding that for the deepest of sorrows there are no words. It is in this space that I am forever drawn back to scripture telling us that The Spirit intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
There, in the depths of the soul, God and man meet. Only our creator who holds perfect understanding can console and comfort in this deepest place. I have gained reverence for the unspoken as I, too, have my own deep hurts that only God Himself is able to soothe.
I don’t have explanation or excuses for the many tragedies that occur in life, but I do have reverence for God’s sovereignty, His wisdom, and His unfailing, eternal love. I have come to believe it is the challenge and task of every person to come to a place of surrender and of love; surrender to what is beyond control, and deep, abiding love for God and for others.
As I walked on my treadmill yesterday afternoon, I thought of myself and how it seems to me I have, for all of my life, simultaneously been both a child and a granny 🙂 I am what many refer to as an “old soul” in that from childhood I’ve been concerned with things far bigger than myself, my years, or my mind and heart could understand, yet these limitations in no way kept me from them. I am just as much a child, though, in some ways as I ever was. Still, I giggle with silliness regularly, love to play, and look at life with the same sparkling wonder that warmed and stirred my heart 40 years past.
Though I’ve grown and learned and mastered the demands of daily living, I find my hands still remain far too small to set to right all they so desire to fix. The world is still vastly larger and more complex than I and I am unable to effect the changes I so desire to see made. I still struggle with the truth that people hurt one another and instead of choosing peace, they often choose pain, both for themselves and for those closest to them. Harsh words are spoken when kindly words could take their place and brighten instead of darken the world. My, my, my…how things, though forever changing, in many ways remain the same.
I’ve learned, too, that God has wrought in me these desires for good, eyes to see the richness of His plans; a heart warmed and enlivened by the gift of children; hope for my own so plentiful I can share; love for young people and a desire to teach what matters most; lessons learned through hardship so that another’s way might be smooth; joy in the simple blessings of nature; gratitude for daily provision; deep appreciation for my journey that has shaped and sculpted a heart that cares. Though I am still pathetically flawed, I know I am accepted in The Beloved and because His love dwells in me, even I have something of great value, eternal value to share.
My prayer is that I will live each of my remaining days to cradle the lives of others with care. This, for me, is the gift and joy of life, to be a place where others find the love of a true friend, one who loves and honors at all times. For my family, I pray continually for righteousness to dwell in our hearts and for our home to be a place where the peace of God comforts all who enter.