I always have high hopes at the beginning of each year. I make lists and plans and envision a year of adventure, meaning, and quite a bit of activity. I suppose I’ve always been tempted to worship the idol of amazing experiences, whether it’s a Saturday afternoon picnic, a gorgeous waterfall hike, or a trip to somewhere new. My husband and I are always keeping a running list of new cafes or bakeries we want to try, day trips we want to take, projects we want to accomplish. It’s the same way when it comes to serving God and doing good–my desires for doing justice & being part of grand stories can feel unquenchable. I struggle the most with the small, faithful, insignificant acts of doing good.
And this January didn’t start out any different. We made lists and booked summer campsites and started dreaming of adventure. We talked about snowshoeing and beach trips and Sunday hikes. And then, in mid-January, I got sick. After a few weeks I went to the doctor. And so started a chain of events in which the last few months have been a blur of up & down days, sometimes feeling well and sometimes not, and taking each day as it comes.
More than anything, this has been a huge exercise in humility. I’ve learned what it feels like to cancel plans with the same friend many weeks in a row, and wonder if she’ll still want to hang out with me after this. I’ve learned how hard it can be to admit when you’re still struggling and wonder if people are starting to view you as a tad bit overdramatic. I’ve learned how hard it can be to ask for help for stupid stuff like keeping up with your laundry. I’ve also learned how completely I’ve taken so many lovely people for granted, including my family who has shown up at appointments, made us dinner, and done that stupid laundry.
I’ve put off posting this for weeks now, waiting to share this with the world until I can say, “And you know what? I feel great now and look at all I’ve learned!” Instead, here is the hard news I have to share: we won’t be headed back to Amsterdam this Spring, after all. We’re still not sure exactly what is making me feel unwell, but my doctor gave me the “no traveling” ultimatum this week. And although I know it’s the right decision, I’m really struggling with it. I’m struggling to say, “Your will not mine,” when having to let go of something I looked forward to so much. I’m struggling with letting people down, having to send those emails and cancel plans last-minute, wondering when the next opportunity will come. It’s discouraging and, at times, stressful. Yet I know my God is good, and I know His plans are far bigger than this. I know that what to us could look like evil, he will use for good. I pray that he will use the next few months in ways I could have never imagined looking back. I pray he will teach me what it means to remain faithful in the small, unexciting ways as well as the grand adventures.
“Oh grant me wisdom from above,
To pray for peace and cling to love,
And teach me humbly to receive
The sun and rain of Your sovereignty.
Each strand of sorrow has a place
Within this tapestry of grace;
So through the trials I choose to say:
“Your perfect will in your perfect way.”