It’s New Year’s Eve. I’m sitting with the kids and thought I should have a moment with them to reflect on the year and look forward with gratitude and hope to next year (because that’s what mums on instagram do).
This year is 2022. We’ve had 3 years of global pandemic. This year was the first full year back at school on site – it was the year that everything opened up and was supposed to be ok again. My kids rattled off a list of things they felt marked the year – new friendships, the discovery of a new passions and hobbies, new groups at church.
I was stuck.
I did parenting and I did work. That’s it.
This year just sort of happened. In that moment it felt like it’s year might as well have not happened at all.
I’m not sure how I felt. Ashamed. Sad. Disappointed. Agitated. Adrift. Lost.
A very wise friend told me that this year we were all supposed to be ok again – except we’re still processing the trauma of the last 3 years. There’s been pandemic, fire, flood, war, more floods, home schooling at the same time as working, rises in living costs, political instability, more lock downs. There’s been a lot we need to grieve, process and recover from, except we’re trying to be “normal” again now that everything has opened up. Trying to be normal while processing the trauma of the last 3 years in not normal.
At the same time, for me as I’m sure there has been for everyone else, we are all head-down-bum-up working, just working and parenting. We’re putting one foot in front of the other trying to get through every day.
I’m sure I have done things but it feels like I’ve done nothing except survive. And it doesn’t feel good.
I feel like I’m a disappointment to God – what have I done for him? How have I increased in Christlikeness? This mostly comes from a cultural place of feeling we have to point to things we have closed out and achieved. But living for God is a daily active process. It’s not complete or closed out or achieved.
C S Lewis once said that “Relying on God has to start all over everyday, as if nothing has yet been done.” This is how I feel. I know my kids will say I have done things to help and support them, and my friends would kindly probably say the same. But I feel this year as if nothing has been done.
Luckily for me – and for us all – “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Our daily renewal is enabled by God’s own action because he knows us so well. He knows us better than we know ourselves.
And right now. On this day, I have a yearning that outweighs any other feeling. “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)
This year is not lost. It has merely left me with the restlessness we all feel apart from God. The restlessness we will all feel until we are with him in eternity. I know he lives and that I will see him with my own eyes. As Augustine famously said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
This year is done. But the time is not lost. God has been with me every day and no day is lost when God is in control. I just feel the emotional agitation of an imperfect and incomplete life in a cultural moment that is a perfect storm of traumatic events.
If this has been your year too, if you have felt as though you were just treading water – maybe you have, but that is not bad and you should not grieve. God is with us and so not a single second is lost in him.
As we head into the new year, let us recognise the moment we are in and look forward to walking with God. He is with us and his mercies are new every day.