The biblical book of Ecclesiastes is full of slogans, lessons, nuggets and tweets, really. The author is intent on sharing life lessons for future generations to avoid and learn from. One of those themes is clearly about how there is a time and season for everything! The good, the bad, the hard, the easy, etc. And that's the final word I'll share about my 2016. I end this year with an "Ecclesiastes attitude".
In 2016 I have mourned and missed many things. But I've also learned and developed many things.
I've missed leadership. I've missed exercising some of my God-given gifts. I've missed teaching. I've mourned influence. I've mourned relationships with people that are now thousands of miles away. I've missed traveling. I've missed my Father, mother and siblings more than any other year I've lived overseas. I've mourned what seemed to be loss of purpose. I've missed team. I've mourned community. I've missed nations. I miss South Africa. I miss America. I miss English. I miss smooth roads. I miss feeling needed, wanted, significant in the eyes of people. But somehow in the midst of all this, I sense a deep knowing that this is the time and season for this. There's a time and as season for everything under the sun.
But I've learned and developed so, so much. It helps me to open my eyes and name it. Allow me to share some with you. I've learned that I'll never find true value from position or title. I've discovered that I'm loved by God our Father and that's final. I've learned that it's enough to be a hero at home. I've developed some much needed patience. I've discovered that Davis needs more affirmation, Lily could care less about affirmation and needs my focused attention, and babies can actually bond and be attached to their Dad (never experienced anything like this with Davis or Lily because I worked too much). I've learned 600+ words in Kiswahili and can now have a (messy and broken) conversation with people in Tanzania. I've seen that I'm more stubborn than I thought...sometimes I have to make the same mistake multiple times to learn. I've discovered that my emotions are a gift-- if I let them whisper to me -- and a detriment if I let them yell at me. I've learned that I like to stare at the stars at night. I've come to see that I talk too much and share too openly. I need more wisdom. I've developed a whole new skill set in the kitchen, with new foods and new techniques. I've learned that seasons of decreased outer activity create space for increased inner activity. I've developed my sense of identity far more through the uncertainty and change than I ever did through safety and predictability. I've decided that powerful politicians and poor, illiterate gardeners are equally worthy of my love and friendship. I've discovered that life lessons I thought would take me 1-2 years to get are still coming at me and don't look like they're going away anytime soon. And I've found that the Jesus kingdom is coming all around us if we would have the eyes to see it and the courage to join it.
There's a time and a season for everything. Life ebbs and flows. My heart is hopeful and grateful for what I sense this next year will teach me. I want more and more of the way of Jesus to become the way of Noah, Tricia and these kids we've been entrusted with.
Happy New Year!