Monday, December 30, 2013

If I Had Known...

It's been quite a long time since I've posted on my blog--perhaps too long. But 2014 will be upon us in little more than 24 hours, and I feel as if that deserves some recognition. New Years is often considered a time to look ahead, but I keep finding myself looking back...back at what 2013 has been.

Today's quote is not really a quote. It's a Facebook post that I wrote on December 31, 2012.

"Well, 2012 is all but over. It certainly has been quite a year. I'm excited to see what the future holds, and though 2012 has had its share of trials, I'm almost sorry to see it go."

I remember where I was sitting when I wrote that, and the things going through my mind. And I can't help but thinking, wondering if I would have been so optimistic about the New Year if I had known what it would hold.

I don't want to sound melodramatic. But I think that I can say without exaggeration that 2013 has been the hardest year of my life.

Maybe that's not saying much. I'm only 22 years old. I haven't really lived yet, and I'm sure that life will get much harder before it's over. It might also get much easier. I don't know what life holds. And I think that's one of the most important differences between New Years 2013 and New Years 2014. Last year, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what lay ahead. This time around, I haven't a clue. It's a good reminder that we never know what our future holds. God's plans are often not the same as ours, but His are always better.

And let me make one thing clear before I continue. There are many things about 2013 that I am thankful for. I am beyond blessed by friends, family and most importantly, my Savior.

I am thankful, too, for the lessons this year has taught me. Though often I have been an incredibly stubborn student. They are lessons I did not necessarily expect to learn--about myself, about people, and about the Lord.

I have learned that trials have no easy fix, no easy out. Life has no "undo" button or fairytale ending. But I have also been reminded that trials show us for what we really are, and so I am that much more aware of how much I need God's grace. I fall woefully short of the mark.

And so, sometimes I wonder how I would have approached 2013...

...if I had known about the disappointments.
...if I had known about the nights I would sit alone in my room and cry.
...if I had known about the things I would do and say and later regret.
...if I had known about the "goodbyes" I never expected to say.

But you see, mixed in with all of that were times of such laughter and love, such honesty and vulnerability, such joy and hope.

There will always be shadows, but you need light to make those shadows. You can't have one without the other, in this life anyway. There is a life coming with all light and no shadows.

Ultimately I'm glad that I do not know the future. God only gives us as much as we can handle. Whatever blessings and trials lie ahead, there will be grace enough to face them both, if only I rely on the One who supplies it.

My hope for 2014 is that I can be content to trust God, even when I can't trust people. My hope is that I can rest in His grace and mercy, because nothing else can save me. My confidence is that He is with me EVERY step of my life, no matter what 2014, 2015 or the rest of my years bring. From Him are the blessings and from Him are the trials (blessings in disguise). Blessed be His name!

So, I greet 2014 with a smile and open arms. Not because 2013 was a triumph, not because I have this all figured out, not because I expect it to be painless. But because HIS grace is sufficient.

Happy New Year!

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