My office was closed on Monday, in honor of the beginning of 2012, and I spent the day at home, curled up on the couch, or asleep in bed. It wasn't the way I wanted to kick off the new year - losing the fight to a cold - but I made the best of it.
Tuesday I struggled to get out of bed. I'd taken Tylenol PM Cold at 9:00pm on Monday and then stumbled into a cold medicine coma. By time I made it to my office on Tuesday, I had the thought that it would have been better for me to stay at home. Just a few short minutes later, I spilled hot coffee down the entire front of my brand new, never before worn white blouse. Instead of wearing a stained shirt for the rest of the day, I took it off, washed it in the sink, and then wore my peacoat over my grey slacks for over half of the day.
I've had high hopes for 2012. Most of my hopes have been for an easier year, for abundant blessings, for all these things I felt 2011 lacked. And it's been hard not to get discouraged by two days of sniffles and two days of things not going according to plan.
When I woke up on Wednesday, I again struggled to get out of bed. The cold medicine coma, snuggling dogs, and comfortable bed were so much more appealing than a shower and blow drying my hair. But I got up, only hitting the snooze button once, and set about getting myself ready for work.
I prayed a lot that morning. My quiet time has been lacking recently. I want so badly to pursue my relationship with God, but I feel overwhelmed by my failures and inconsistencies. When it's been so long since you opened the Bible, knowing where to start is overwhelming and scary.
I couldn't tell you what I prayed for exactly. I'm trying not to ask for things every time I pray. Instead, I want to focus on direction and where God is leading me. There are so many things demanding my attention that I want to make sure I'm giving my attention to the things that deserve it.
Not that I can do that well. It's so easy for me to give into the here and the now. I see pieces of my life that are out of place, things that are broken, and I want to fix them. I place my attention on those items and quickly lose sight of the big picture.
My prayers continued during my 30-minute commute. I would start to ask for something and then stop. I would wonder what was okay to say, to ask for, and what was not okay. And I asked for direction - continued and neverending direction. There was no white light or booming voice during that commute. But I did have one thought that wove itself through all of the other thoughts.
My life is pretty good. I have a husband who loves me, two dogs who love me (one who loves me so much that she is constantly attached to me and I trip over her daily), a family who loves me, and friends that make me laugh. But there are things that aren't what they should be. There are struggles that my husband and I are facing - and have been facing for quite some time. They might not be as difficult as other people's struggles but they are still there - every day - reminding me of my shortcomings and pointing out all the failures I see in my life.
Struggles will always exist. There is no such thing as a perfect life. So how do I go about suffering, and struggling, well.
I thought about that all day. Every conversation I had. It kept coming back to me. How do I suffer well?
I don't. That's the answer. I am terrible at struggling. Instead of praying and finding rest in God, I worry. I overanalyze every situation. I try to think of every possible solution. I also worry about everything that could possibly go wrong.
By the time I got home from work, I was rather downtrodden. And then while I cooked dinner, I looked up at the ceiling in our kitchen and noticed that the already large crack in the ceiling had grown in size - both width and length.
I've mentioned that our house needs work. It still does. I don't know if it will never not need work.
Sometimes I am okay with our house that needs work. Sometimes I am not. Right now, I'm tired of not knowing how (and if) we can fix the house. Right now, I am frustrated and impatient. Right now, I am not suffering well.
We talked about all of this over dinner tonight. Not just suffering but the upcoming year and what it meant for us as a couple. Our discussion made me realize that 2012 might not be the year of abundant blessings. It might not be a year that fixes every problem. And maybe that's for the best.
Although I wanted 2012 to be the year that fixed everything. The year that all these overwhelming worries were taken care of. That's why I was cautiously optimistic about 2012. But now I am optimistic and excited for the growth that will come from 2012.
Our house is where we live. It's a building. We love it, but it's a bit too much for us to handle. And so there is always the possibility that we will have to make the very difficult decision of parting with it. That thought used to terrify me, but now it no longer does. Now I am open to the idea of saying goodbye to this house and moving onto wherever it is God wants us to go. Now I'm not worried about where we call home because I know there will always be a place to call home. It doesn't matter if this one house is the place we always call home or if we move in with other people or rent a different house.
There are so many possibilities awaiting us. And I think 2012 will continue to bring those possibilities - even if they do not look the way we expect them to.
So this is the start for me. The start of suffering well. Tonight it included an honest conversation with my husband, quiet time on the couch reading out of Romans, and continued prayer for direction. Tomorrow it will include more quiet time, more prayer, and time spent with friends.
The rest of 2012 will include prayer, quiet time, and truly seeking God in every aspect of my life. I want to be held accountable for my actions. I want to serve others in whatever way they need. I want to let go of the desires I have for my life and instead fully focus on where God is calling me.
I want 2012 to be the year I grew closer to God, the year I realized who I am in Christ, the year I was able to focus on other people. I want 2012 to be the year I learned what it meant to suffer well. I want 2012 to be the year I let go of my selfish desires, my love of material possessions.
I do not want 2012 to be only a year of abundant blessings. If those happen, I'll be thankful. If they don't, I will remember that if God is for us who can be against us. And I'll remember that out of this suffering will come growth.
After all, there's always next week, next month, and next year to begin again.
(title from "safe and sound" by taylor swift (feat. the civil wars)