2016, it’s been wild. I’ve got way too many thoughts to write anything coherent, so I’m going to share some of the highlights. I’ll keep it light by touching on sex, politics, and religion.
Sex: This year I got pregnant for the first time. And I was a little scared. I theoretically wanted children, but honestly was a bit hesitant about following through. God in His great wisdom gave me the gift I was not yet asking for, and it has changed my life. Now when I hold my son I think, what was I so scared of? Losing sleep? Losing freedom? Getting fat? Falling behind in my career? Well, in a way, all of those fears have come to fruition. And yet on the other side of them, it seems that they were all like smoke-screens: illusions designed to keep me from seeing the truth that human life is the greatest treasure imaginable. The infinite worth of my child and the joy I experience in knowing him has brought my fears to nothing. To give my life to and for another is the reason I was put on this earth.
Politics: It is impossible to say anything on this subject without making someone uncomfortable or upset, and yet this dovetails with what I’ve learned in the past year about politics: It is good to disagree. It is good to have real dialogue and to really try to hear and understand the perspective of the other. It is a good and humbling discipline to move toward my perceived opponent instead of ranting in my echo chamber. Michael and I have said on multiple occasions this year that we feel fortunate to have real friends on both sides of the political spectrum. We respect and admire people who voted differently from each other, and who voted differently from us. One of my new year’s resolutions is to keep listening to people of various perspectives and to seek to be a person who can stand in the gap between increasingly polarized communities. Because the truth is, I see Jesus in both of them. And he Himself stood in the gap to tear down the dividing wall of hostility between brothers.
Religion: One word I’ve repeatedly spoken this year is, “why?” Why did my friend have to bury her mother? Why did another lose her baby? Why are some countries ripped to sheds while others enjoy decades of prosperity? It seems that in the here and now, there are no straight lines. The healthiest people get cancer and die. The holiest mothers remain infertile. Innocent families watch their neighborhoods get blown to bits. It is an illusion to think that if I play by the rules that I will somehow be immune to the effects of evil. It is an illusion to think that I can make sense of what happens to me or to the people I love. There are no straight lines.
This year perhaps more than any other, I’ve realized that my hope cannot be not found in a religious system or a spiritual formula that promises certain outcomes if I behave the right way. This year I’ve realized that my hope—and the hope of the world—is in the person of Jesus. And Jesus doesn’t hand out a chart which can be used to dispassionately analyze or explain away suffering; instead, He gives Himself. To the point of death. God entered into the chaos of our pain— He knows what it is to ask “why (have you forsaken me?)”—and by His Cross He has redeemed the world.
What about you? What are some of your big takeaways from 2016? Anything I've said here you disagree with? Let's talk about it over coffee!