When I was in my early teens, a so much more grown up young woman friend of mine told me how she would meet each new year: at her little writing desk, with candles all around her, scribbling down her reflections on the end of the annum. It sounded amazing, and is probably a large part of the reason I want to get all reflective whenever the year draws to a close.
But new years around here invariably flip over amid a buzz of busyness, leaving little time for journal-scribbling, candlelighting, or serious pondering. It's inconsiderate, really; oughtn't a new year make its entrance at a less busy time than, you know, the end of the year? Nevertheless, even though I sometimes crave a stop-and-pause, I'd rather be living life at the end of the year than just reflecting on it.
Sometimes a new year feels more lonely than anything else. I think I'm an optimist because I seem to expect the best and then get disappointed when my dreams don't come true. And sometimes, the big moments remind me of what's missing from my life, rather than what's already there. This new year, however, there was no room for loneliness or loss. Instead, I was surrounded by my closest people -- my parents, my littlest brother, my sisters, and their adorable precious children.
All of us, the baby families branching off from the parent family, sat around for a big barbecue dinner together. We pulled crackers and read bad jokes and made glo-stick bracelets and haloes, even though the two brothers-in-law swore they wouldn't go out with us if we wore them, even though we swore we wouldn't take them off. The girls won, and the guys accompanied the glowing girls and the children down the hill where we met with hundreds of other locals for fireworks at 9pm. Grammy stayed home to mind the babies, who were sleeping, and Amelia promised she would 'remember all the colours to tell Grammy.'
Home again, the children went to bed and the guys went out for some late-night fishing, leaving my sisters and my parents and me. For just those few hours, and with the exception of my brother Nick in WA, it was like old times again before there were any weddings or babies or people living all over Australia. I wouldn't go back -- I don't think any of us would -- but it was special to be in that place for one evening, and we sat and ate chocolates and watched a movie together and rushed outside when midnight hit, shouting happiness in our own chilled way.
It was a good start to 2012, one that left me more satisfied and less introspective than some new years. I don't have any great conclusions drawn from the months of 2011, only that, as I told friends in my Christmas newsletter, it felt like a settled year, particularly externally. Internally, there is always more to learn. 2011 was the first year I felt genuinely worried about grown up things like financial stability and making preparations for the future. Of course, I've thought about those things a lot, but last year was the first time I really felt them lean toward me in a menacing way. 2011 was also the year I discovered not one but several grey hairs. Do these two events go hand-in-hand? Perhaps.
Life highlights life, it seems, and brings to light everything we are as well as everything we're not. Living with my family once again brought into sharp focus my at times life-sucking sense of insecurity and my failures to truly love as Christ teaches us to love. While I've heard forever that we must find our worth and our identity in Christ, I've never really understood what that meant. "That's just a pretty phrase and no one will explain to me how to do that!!" sums it up, basically. But over the past few months I've been mulling over this whole identity thing, and realising it goes way, way back to creation. Our worth -- my worth, your worth -- cannot stem from what we do or how we act, what we have or what we make, whether we are creative or fabulous or funny or sweet or loving or saintly or brave. Rather, this worth is something quite apart from us, imbued because we are made by a great God who saw what He'd done and called it very good. Nothing we do changes that. It's all about Him.
So this year I haven't made resolutions as such. I'm just praying that I'll understand this more and live it out more. I desire holy confidence and bold love, fuelled by God and in imitation of Christ.
Welcome, 2012. We're ready for you.
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Anonymous -- I'm glad it was an encouragement :).
Shaina -- thank you so much for your kind comment! It made my heart leap to get a comment from the lady whose blog inspired this whole Project 52 journey!
Joy -- thank you so much! And all the same back to you :).
Chantel -- yay!! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And do let me know if you give those cookies a try. xx
Sarah -- happy new year to you, too!