Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Reflections on 2013

January has been a big month for me. I turned 31 years old, and I rounded the halfway mark of my second trimester. I’m officially on the downhill slope towards another major life change.

As I reflect on the last year, a few things have stuck out in my mind as worth holding onto…

1.       Age truly is “just a number” as they say. I can’t believe I’m in my thirties… until I hang out with people in their twenties, and then I’m thankful to be in a different place. I’m sure when 40 comes, I’ll be thankful for that, too.

2.       Enjoying the moment, wherever you are, takes effort. We’ve all heard the charge to “carpe diem,” and living in Europe temporarily, I feel like it might as well be a flag pretty much every American waves. It’s generally good advice – why waste the opportunity to see so much of a different world relatively cheaply during your tour? The thing no one mentions is that after a while, hearing it gets reeeaaaalllly old. I don’t think anyone sets out to NOT seize the day, but wherever you go, life follows you. We all have responsibilities and obligations, sick days and grumpy days. We’re still sinful humanity, even if we live in a picturesque German village. Sometimes “carpe diem” just means that you say a prayer of thanksgiving, take the dog on a walk, attempt some German with your neighbor, and make your husband dinner. It doesn’t always mean jumping on a train and going somewhere new for the weekend. I really believe that seizing the day just means you make a choice about how you will treat the day – with or without a spirit of contentment.

3.       We choose how we react to our circumstances. This is something that has come to me repeatedly since I got pregnant. I was shocked to discover that, as I shared the news with the people in my life, so many people were quick to follow their congratulations with what can only be described as ominous warnings. Warnings about the morning sickness. Warnings about the fatigue. Warnings about the bloating and the diarrhea and the acne and the food aversions and the weight gain and the swelling and the heartburn and the restless sleep and the baby encroaching on vital organs… and it didn’t stop there… when they stopped to think about what they could “share” with me about motherhood, all too often something like “get ready to say goodbye to a good night’s sleep” or “you’ll never sleep again” or “you’ll never know real anxiety until you have a child” pops out of their mouths. I felt like I was inundated with total negativity directed at my unborn baby. Like the big secret of motherhood is that it sucks. I know it wasn’t their intention, but these women were essentially encouraging me to hate on my pregnancy and future infant. What a way to spend a couple of years – full of resentment towards this little being God is creating inside of me. Well, I am not interested in that kind of “advice.” My husband and I spent a year praying that God would give us this little one, and we continue to pray for him daily. He is already an answer to prayer; I am choosing to be thankful. I may have a day of moaning about being uncomfortable, but the nausea, fatigue, acne, heartburn and weird pains are all signs that God is doing this incredible thing in my body. So when I notice my eyebrows are falling out (weird, right?),  or I’m getting up for the 17th time in the middle of the night to pee, I am choosing to thank God for this little life and praying for his heart and growth.    

4.       Embrace change. When my husband was on his year-long deployment, I found a bracelet at an art fair that had a charm with this statement on it. I loved it instantly, because I feel like this continues to be a refrain in my life. Life is dynamic, in constant motion, and I can choose to go with it in joy and thanksgiving, or dig my heels in and resist with an attitude of resentment.  Embrace change.

The last year was a good one. God’s love was evident in all things, something for which I am ever thankful. I am confident that this year will hold the same blessing.

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NASB)