As I sat in worship last night, thinking about the year that was drawing to a close and the one that would soon begin, the only thing I really felt strongly was how unfocused I was. I was excited to have my niece sitting next to me, and I focused on her. I was thankful to have a husband who serves as a communion assistant, and I was focused on him. I took in the sight of the Christmas decor that was still looking ever so lovely, and focused on how strange it was to have missed Christmas worship due to being ill. I have been trying to wrap my head around a new year for weeks now, and as usual I was able to focus on everything but that.
Now, at this point, you may be thinking that I am going to say that my #onelittleword for this year is going to be FOCUS. Sorry, no luck. I am only just getting started...
So there I sat, struggling to "feel" anything typical of New Year's Eve. I searched my mind and my heart for signs of anticipation. I put out feelers for any lingering sense of accomplishment or even regret. I listened intently to the sermon, and for the first half I thought it was a nice sermon. Nothing really jumped out at me, but I was appreciating what the Pastor had to say. And then a phrase caught my attention:
"In the meanwhile..."
For months now, I have felt like I was kind of in limbo. I have been focusing on various points in the future, and constantly thinking that once I just got to that point things wouldn't feel so scattered. I have known for several months now that I would start watching a friend's little girl in January, and I knew there was a big transition coming. I have also been working a lot, because the holiday season brought more projects along than I had ever imagined. And of course there was that carrot dangling in front of us that was Matt's holiday vacation. I spent a couple of months just trying to get through each day, reminding myself that eventually things would be better. I was living in survival mode, and there were definitely some dark days when I started to wonder if things really would ever get better.
So, that phrase... in the meanwhile... caught my attention. Pastor Schauer was talking about how Jesus has given us the important task of building His church on earth during this time between our Savior's ascension and His return. He talked about how we can stand firm in the hope that we have been given through Christ our Savior, but he also talked about how it isn't good enough to just wait and hope. God doesn't just want us to bide our time. He doesn't want us to just live in survival mode. There really is so much important work to be done... but do we see it? Do we really?
Since that sermon, I have not been able to shake the word URGENT. I am just going to be honest... it isn't the word I want to focus on. "Urgent" is not a relaxing word. It isn't that sigh of relief that I was hoping for after hitting that magic point in time where everything was supposed to get easier. It isn't the breath of fresh air I was hoping for after pushing through these past couple of months. If I really think about it, it exhausts me. However... I find a peace in it as well. A peace that surpasses understanding for sure. It doesn't make sense to me entirely, but it is there. Because I know that if God has called us to live with a sense of urgency it means He is also going to provide the stamina and energy to do so.
So this urgency... where is it pointing me? God has been really, really letting me feel the weight of some things lately. I have become increasingly sensitive to the struggles and needs of those around me, and since empathy has never been one of my strengths this increase in feeling has created some serious growing pains for me. Part of this work on the part of the Holy Spirit has come from parenting a highly sensitive child. It is like Aiden's empathy is contagious sometimes. He is teaching me to really see things, instead of blocking out what I don't want to acknowledge. The wall around my heart has been crumbling ever since this precious boy was born, and I admit it is hard to let go of that barrier.
I have expressed over and over during the past couple of years that I feel like I am being prepared for something. As I head into this new year I honestly feel like perhaps I am at a point where I am expected to start putting some of what I have learned into action. I have no idea how, exactly. I see God consistently pointing me back to my current vocation as a wife and mother. I know that a big part of what lies ahead concerns putting the bulk of my energy back into our home. I know that when I honor God's will for me as a woman He will direct me in what comes next. It always seems so counter-intuitive to pull back in order to move forward, but I know that is what I am being asked to do. And I am not being asked in a timid way. Like I said, urgency is not a relaxing word.
I know that God wants us to urgently meet the needs of His children on earth. It is so easy to let that fact overwhelm me. The world is a mess. There is so much hurt and need. Where do I start? For me, I start with my own family. My family of 3. I feel like only then I will have the foundation I need to reach out to my family outside this little home. And then my faith family. And then... who knows. Maybe that is as far as God intends for my reach to go. Maybe He has big things I can't even imagine planned. That isn't what I am being asked to focus on right now. Right now I need to serve my husband and child with urgency. That is where it starts. And the strength that I need to do that? The directions I need to make it happen? Those are found only in His word. So, really, I am back to square one.
Five years ago I felt like I was just starting something as a new year began. Now? I feel like I have come full circle. While I took a lap around the block I learned so much. It is like I have been training for a race, and now it is time to start running. That is honestly how I feel. That sense of urgency for what lies ahead makes my heart race as I wait to hear my cue to begin. Now is the time to listen. Listen first, and then act. Refocus. Move forward. Serve where I am needed "in the meanwhile" and trust that God has a course ready for me as I move forward.
Here we go, 2016! Time to get started.