It’s Christmas, and that means it’s time for Christmas cards. Typically, I produce a little letter or photo collage to recap the key moments of our year. This year, however, has been a bit of a kick in the teeth, and I had no desire to remember and reflect on it. Indeed, I had been feeling that we could not bid farewell to 2017 quite soon enough.
Then I had a conversation with a friend about keeping our eyes open to the blessings around us. She said that was easy for her to say when life was going well, but it must be really hard to do when you’re dealing with something difficult, like my current health situation. I started to agree with her but realized instead that I had often found it quite easy–maybe even easier than usual–to see blessings in the midst of the recent trials. It is almost as though my soul was actively seeking all that is good, right, beautiful, and true–clinging to each act of kindness and grace–as a means of balancing the hard, the wrong, and the broken I’ve been encountering.
True, 2017 was filled with grief, illness, and change. At many moments, I felt every foundation of my life shake. My heart broke. I questioned the deepest tenets of my faith. I prayed for strength just to take the next breath.
Yet, in each of those moments, even the worst of them, I could point to a blessing. Thinking back over the year, there have been many blessings, too numerous to count, really. From the tangible and the practical to the supernatural. From sources I expected and from out of the blue. Reminders that I am not alone. Reassurances in the throes of worry. Joy amid tears. Relationships deepened. All silver linings to cloudy circumstances.
I’m still not writing a Christmas letter this year. But I am taking time to treasure the gifts I’ve been given, some of which have been precipitated precisely by the tough things we’ve faced. And I’m looking to 2018 with hope and a desire to spend far more energy recognizing and acknowledging the good than dwelling on the trials.