I don’t know what I thought 2023 was going to be, but I didn’t think it would be this.
Earlier this week I was telling Judi (my assistant) that I had honestly expected this year to be easier. I don’t know why, I just did. Maybe it’s because I thought I was going to make a lot of adjustments, and I had full intentions to.
After Gus (my biological father) and my adoptive mother died in the same month, I thought I would have a season to grieve. What I imagined was that I would have the responsibilities of home and the responsibilities of work, and aside from that I would carve out a lot of time to grieve. I would streamline all the rest. I planned to take things at a slower pace than I normally do. I was ready to make changes. I didn’t think I was going to get a reprieve from having to work a job or keeping up with my home, BUT — aside from those two things, I expected to have more space to breathe. And honestly? I expected more grace from people.
And then, 2023 unfolded as one of the hardest years I’ve ever had. There were so many issues, and the unexpected around every corner. I haven’t really had a moment to just sit in the sadness and feel it, as my therapist often encourages and says must happen for the grieving process to do its work.
I am not completely fixated on my own problems. I listen to the challenges my friends have, and others whom I minister to. I know that for millions of people, 2023 has been the furthest thing from a favorite year. I know that so many people in our country are struggling right now, and my heart goes out.
I cling to personal worship and prayer times, seeking new perspectives and most importantly God’s thoughts. Spiritual disciplines are life and I don’t know how anyone does without them.
This week, I was reviewing this well-known passage in the Message Bible, and it put a ‘zinger’ as I call it, in my heart.
“When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. ” Matthew 5:1-12
I don’t even know where to begin with the depth of what this passage in this version speaks to me. These twelve verses are percolating within me, giving me so much to consider. Maybe they will speak to you too.
Read them over and over again. Let them sink in.
Even in the midst of the unexpected –challenges and disappointments — I am still so very blessed.
Did you know you can be hurting and blessed at the same time?
Grieving and blessed at the same time?
In recovery and blessed at the same time?
Yep, you can!
When my birth mom died, it took me eight months to go through the grieving process and recover. I’ve accepted that this current grief season may take years, and I’m being understanding with myself in that. I didn’t create the challenge and I am accepting and allowing it as from the Lord to teach me whatever He wants to in the midst of it.
By the way, the photo that goes with this post is me earlier this year, walking with a cup of coffee in Alaska. In that moment, I was very cognizant of blessings and had a few moments to breathe. So grateful and hanging on to each moment that I get to just breathe and talk to Jesus.