We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
If you had told the 13 year-old me that the 30-something me would be sitting in a 4-season room next a cozy fire and listening to Christian music the day after Christmas while tapping out a blog post on a Kindle, he’d first ask what a blog and Kindle are. When you told him he’d be living in a home that is in a neighborhood he once resented, that he’d be enjoying a snowfall and that he’d have a healthy marriage while raising three daughters (and would have peace in never having a son), he’d tell you it sounds nice, but you’re out of your mind.
Funny how God usees simple moments to put an aimless life on course for its destiny.
He gives us the opportunity and the ability to achieve what we often consider impossible. In fairness, I don’t live an extraordinary life, but it’s a good one. Probably a little above average should you care to do all the math, but I wouldn’t bother. My point is not to stack me up against others or judge according to any sort of standard. Rather, I want to offer up a frame of reference.
I grew up in a home that depended upon government assistance and food stamps. We knew our way around the food bank circuit, which wasn’t anywhere near as organized as it is today. A bounced check was as common as a haircut. Clothes were second hand. Cars were old and oft-repaired. And there certainly was a degree of domestic drama… infidelity, violence, foul language, drugs, alcoholism, mental disorders, you name it.
We, no doubt, were NOT a house that glorified God, let alone gave any thought to doing so.
I think about this as I reflect on the approaching New Year. While this is a time of renewal for some, an opportunity for a “fresh start” of sorts, I like to look at it more as a time of development. I’ve long held to a belief that we are works in progress until the day we leave this earth. And to look at New Years with “resolutions” that are, more often than not, empty promises to be someone “different” is unrealistic.
God made us all to be the people that we are. He’s given us the experiences we’ve had as a way of preparing us for the days ahead of us. And when you frame it that way, He certainly wants us to build upon what He has already given.
A common phrase that I now detest is “hang in there.” I dislike it because it says “whelp, things are out of your control, so just endure and hope someone or something else will change it for you.”
That’s a load of crap.
Somehow, I hung in there through all of my adolescence. Somehow, I hung in there and was never pulled from that home by social services. Somehow, I hung in there, kept out of enough trouble and earned respectful grades.
Somehow, I hung in there, found God, met the love of my life and got into college and had a means to pay for it. That was when I realized there would be no more “hanging in there.” I went to college, reinvented myself while free of negative influences. I excelled despite a very common belief among many naysayers that I should never have been capable of doing so.
I was done hanging in there.
Yes, by God’s grace, I was rising above. And He desires me to keep rising above, for His glory. And God wants you to rise above.
Years ago, while pondering this very thing, I started making “affirmations” instead of “resolutions”. Those affirmations represent the development that is needed inside of me over the coming year. Those affirmations, I believe, are God directed through a certain experience, a chance reading, or perhaps a quote that resonates with me.
The common narrative in each year’s affirmation is the fact that God is on my side and that He is my biggest fan. I read these affirmations daily on my commute to work and anytime I am in my car. They are posted on my sun visor so I can quickly glance at them while at a traffic light or other sort of idling state.
I will be posting my 2013 affirmation by the end of the year. Watch for more on this topic as New Year’s approaches. I am hopeful you will join me in designing your own affirmations, commenting on mine or sharing any other tips, thoughts, scriptures or experiences that may be on your hearts.
God bless you.