I get very reflective at the end of each year, looking back on the best & the worst, the people & events that changed me, the situations and circumstances that shaped me into a different person than I was one year before. While Hurricane Sandy had the most impact in my community & circle of friends, and the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting troubled me with a level of sadness I had never known, nothing held more power in 2012 than the suicide of my friend’s son.
Nothing held more power because it is where I saw God’s Power firsthand, where I took part in the master craftsmanship of His plan -though I only recognized that in hindsight. God became real & present to me, His tender mercies evident at work in and among our little Charlie Brown group of women. We began meeting to walk the pages of a “Parenting Prodigals” study together, became invested in each others’ stories & familiar with the pain and struggle of navigating relationships with our adult children. When Nick took his life, we all lost a beloved child.
To recognize that if God had not pressed down on me to lead this summer study, that if He had not knowingly given me the exact names of women to invite, even that if I had not been obedient to respond (you all know I have a tendency to argue with God & can easily go rogue) … to think that my dear friend who is now both sister & confidante to me, would have had to walk the grievous unimaginable path alone makes me shake it is so unfathomable. I only knew this woman for 9 months before the study, and not well at all. But God knew exactly what was to come in her life. He knew she would need us to know her story & guided by the study, that we would be the ones to encourage her to share her heart with Nick & ask for forgiveness for anything that stood between them. Hundreds of times I have thanked God for the gift of that conversation, that healing grace, between mother & son. God knew that deepening bonds between us, and a purpose greater than each of our individual selves, would undergird the grieving process, forging sweet & tender lasting relationships for some of us, built for growth and laced with His amazing grace.
So no, as I look back upon 2012 for the lessons God has taught me and ponder how I will apply those lessons in the new year, I will not be making any New Year’s resolutions. Most of what typically comes to mind anyway is a list of things I will do – like exercise regularly or blog 3 times a week, and then there’s that other list of things I won’t do – like spend money I don’t have, eat junk food or stay up so late. Nope, I don’t want to be bound by wills & won’ts, by shoulds & shouldn’ts, by what I do or don’t do. I want to be harnessed into the place of “being” that God has for me in this opening winter season of 2013.
I want to follow the path of “the bracelet” and lean in to all that God has for me in the new year, all that He designed me to be. And I want to invite you to journey with me. Now hold on girls – I know you don’t know what “the bracelet’ is all about … so cool your hormones & I’m gonna tell you! I can count 5 influential women in my life right now who were mere acquaintances last year at this time. Coincidentally, two of them gifted me with meaningful bracelets this Christmas, another with a heart-within-an-open-heart ornament that penetrates my soul, that I will surely blog about at another time because it’s not the kind of ornament you put away with the Christmas decorations. The other two women in the ya ya sisterhood of God’s blessings in 2012 gave to me of themselves – one was a re-connection clearly orchestrated by God (of course, what isn’t?), & her infectious laughter is all that surpasses the insight and godly wisdom she shares so selflessly; the other, a more recent & concentrated developing friendship, has been a partner in community and in navigating the gaps & spaces left open in mid-life by grown children who have their own lives.
Back to the bracelet and the path I want to take us on! I am captivated by the cuff bracelet my girlfriend gave me, not surprising since it represents all that I want in my life, but have not necessarily pursued. It is made up of alternating gold & silver decorative panels with different words and symbols etched into the metal – it is poignant and rich in the invitation to pursue. I promise to post a picture after we get a few steps down the path, but I don’t want to spoil the journey for anyone by laying temptation to rush to the next panel when the Lord is beckoning us to linger a while longer where we are.
Serenity is our first place to dwell. What picture, thoughts, sounds does the word “serenity” trigger for you? What do you imagine the Serenity link of the bracelet looks like? Just play in it for awhile, stay in it for awhile. I’ll share my reflections on serenity shortly as we set upon the path of the bracelet together.