I love reflecting on the year at the end of it and peering into the next. There’s something special, even holy, about remembering what God has done and thinking about what He’s sparking in you for the future. The “clean-slate-ness” is always invigorating, but maybe never more than it is as I look into 2018.
Honestly, 2017 has been one of the hardest years I can remember. It was full of hard, dark, sad, events, difficult adjustments in expectations, lots of tears, physical discomfort, and heartbreak. That’s not to say there weren’t bright spots… because there certainly were. Deep friendships, fun trips, unexpected joys, and generous gifts – those were all part of 2017, too. Holding all of these parts in tension: the good and the hard, the sweet and the bitter; is hard sometimes. It’s easier to focus on one or the other, but if I do then I miss the richness. Because if I can hold them all in tension, I see the most beautiful mosaic of God’s love – the constancy of His presence in each and every season.
And 2018? Well… it’s basically a big, fat question mark on nearly every level. Which means that 2018’s clean slate is as daunting as it is exciting. Ironically, it means that my answer to “What was the highlight of 2017?” and my answer to “What are you most looking forward to in 2018?” are basically the same… Baby Stipes.
For those of you who have read Hope is Hard from the beginning, you know that last fall, my husband and I walked through an ectopic pregnancy and lost our first child. It took us by complete surprise and brought out all kinds of deep emotions we hadn’t experienced before. The wave of grief we navigated in the following months was unpredictable and exhausting, but we could also see God’s hand in it so clearly. It was a strange, hard season.
And then the waiting began as we attempted to get pregnant again. In the end, we didn’t wait long, but our life circumstances had changed significantly by the time we found out we were pregnant again, which made this pregnancy feel challenging for entirely new reasons. And yet, God in His kindness has provided for us in every step. It’s been a hard pregnancy, but a healthy one. God did that!
If nothing else, 2017 has reminded me over and over that, I actually have very little control over my life… but that is a good thing. I can make plans and hope for things and certainly, I have responsibilities to make wise choices and steward my resources, etc… but at the end of the day, I am ENTIRELY dependent on God’s sovereignty and care for me for anything to happen. Though this year has held allthethings, it will definitely be remembered as a year that God answered prayer.
And, looking into 2018? Well, we’re anticipating that the arrival of Baby Stipes will be somewhat of a game changer. (And all the parents laughed and said “Amen!” right?) We’re so excited to meet this little one that God has been knitting together… the one who He has already prepared good works for… the one whom He has known about since before the foundations of the world (!). Excited and a little bit terrified probably sum up my emotions well.
Regardless of all of the question marks hanging over the next year, here’s what I do know: God is good. He gives grace for each day. He determines the path of my life. He has designed 2018 to make me more like Jesus; in the easy, the good, the hard, and the pain. Just like He designed 2017.
I’m so glad the Word tells us over and over that He LOVES us. I banked on it in 2017, and I’ll lean into it for 2018. Truly He is Emmanuel, God with us.