I know it’s almost February. But, if you don’t mind having a little grace with me and my book-finishing/moving brain, I’m ready to call it a New Year around here.
Happy New Year everybody!
January has been a blur of packing and unpacking and book promotion stuff. But I’d like to stop for a second and say thank you for being here with me. Thank you for 2013.
In 2013, when I told you how my word for the year was Enough, I knew I’d be writing and (hopefully) finishing a book in those 12 months, but I didn’t know all it would take of me, how much time it would demand of me, how many babysitters would move away or get full-time jobs, and how difficult our living situation would be. I just told you that I wanted to believe that God is really enough, that all I have to give are my gifts and my time and my wholehearted attention to this life. I told you I wanted to know that God’s grace is enough when my gifts and my time and my attention fail.
Right before Christmas, Chris snagged me away for an overnight north of San Francisco, while his mom stayed with our boys. And we walked up and down a vineyard in the winter sunshine, talking about this past year: How it was harder than we’d planned for, how I was sad a lot. The book forced me into some of my more vulnerable places, questions I’d sometimes rather not explore. And I sat with those struggles day after day, forcing myself to churn out words. I loved the work of writing Found and ached because of it.
Then there was the neighbor situation, something that I waited a long time to share with you and still struggled to know how to share without sharing too much, without risking the hope of reconciliation or becoming a gossip. But, if you ask me how I’ll remember 2013, I will remember it as two things: the year I wrote a book and the year of the Neighbor Anxiety.
I spent this past year acutely afraid of my neighbors, in a constant internal struggle of risking confrontation or letting my kids play in their own house. By the fall of 2013, I felt sick when I walked into my apartment. I wanted to be anywhere else.
By the time Chris and I walked those vineyards in December, we knew we’d be moving. It had been months since I told him I was so afraid of seeing the neighbors that I no longer felt brave enough to carry the trash down to the garbage bins in our shared space outside. I was a woman writing a book about grace and wholeheartedness and I lived in fear of running into the people with whom I was most called to be brave, to make peace. I was frantic when I saw them, near panic. I was anxious and aware of every noise my kids made in our home, so afraid that the doorbell was someone angry, ready to accuse me. Ready to point out my failure.
And at the same time, God told me I was enough.
At the same time, I went to therapy and my counselor helped me think through why it mattered so much to me. Why was I so afraid of confrontation? Why was I afraid of failing the neighbors, of not living up to their expectations? Why did I need them to tell me I was okay enough at being a mom?
I believe in making peace. I believe in reconciliation. And when that doesn’t happen, what do I believe then?
I sat in my therapist’s office this past week and she told she was proud of me. You couldn’t change the relationship, Micha. So you changed the external situation. You did that for your family.
Yes, I moved. I moved to a beautiful home and this morning my boys woke up and talked to each other in their own room. (Something we couldn’t do before.) They ran and jumped at 7 am and no one told them, No. In fact, in this first full week in our new house, our family has already lost its constant No-ing. And all of it—the beauty, the noise, the freedom—is miraculous. I don’t want to forget how hard it was.
But still, I don’t want to run from pain. (Did I run from pain? You changed the external situation, my therapist said. That was brave of you, she said.)
And here’s the truth. God was enough. Even in my panic attacks and the ways I shouted at my kids. Even in my fear of taking out the trash and risking confrontation. Then, when it all felt too difficult, God was enough.
And now. When the sun is setting out the windows of my new home and the boys are in and out and able to not only run, but to run outside, God is enough.
What does it mean to learn to be content in every circumstance? What does it mean to believe that God’s grace is enough? Right here. In this moment. In the anxiety and in the freedom?
My one word for 2013 was Enough…
And I don’t know if I believe it fully. That God is enough. That Christ is daily, faithfully, making me enough. Healing my broken places, offering wholeness, using my fractured life to bring hope to a fractured world.
Did I learn Enough? Maybe. Slowly. Maybe I’m just beginning to scrape the surface of all that means.
And even that is enough, isn’t it?
I’ll be back tomorrow with a reflection on my One Word for 2014.