In one of the last books I read in 2017 the author, knowing she’d be traveling the world with her family, journaled a note to herself:
I question our sanity by our third day here. I’m enamored of the earth’s diversity of climates and cultures, and I want a drink of all of it. But China is a struggle for me, with its Communist worldview a battering ram against my overzealous democratic autonomy. I knew this about China before we landed here, so a few weeks before we left I journaled a note to my future self, as a hammer to break the glass in case of an emergency (the emergency being, of course, questioning our sanity and considering a trip to a coffee shop to grab some Wi-Fi and book a return flight home):
You’re in China, which is hard. But you can do hard things. You won’t be here long. This month is the foundation for the year. Lean in to the struggles; give thanks for the easy times. Hard doesn’t mean wrong. You’re on the right path. (Tsh Oxenreider)
This note keeps coming to mind as we move deeper into 2018. I’m not going globe-trotting with my family (I WISH!), but for the first time in many years I’m entering this one knowing for sure there will be hard things, because this year is bringing CHANGE (not my favorite.)
I want to be present and thankful, and I don’t want to let fear of future change steal my joy today. So from the peace and stability of January 2018, from a life that has stayed relatively the same from year to year for a while now, from a heart that naturally overflows with gratitude (rather than having to fight for it), here’s a letter to my future self.
Dear Future Renee,
From this frigid early January day, I don’t know how you’re responding to change and difficulty: With faith and grace, or struggling to trust God. Holding on tight to the things you know are true, or if giving in to fear. I don’t know what hard things you’re facing, whether they are the ones I expect now, or others that have come as a surprise.
But I do know:
Whatever giants you are facing, God is bigger. He is with you, and His goodness is bigger than you know. You are loved and known, not forgotten and invisible.
As things shift and change, I hope you remember:
God never changes, and He will not change His mind about you.
Your stability does not come from your plans, or your ability to manage things so that everyone in the world is comfortable and safe and happy.
Your value is not from being needed by others, or from everything staying the same. Change is natural.
And your hope is not in people or organizations or homes or paychecks or roles. God’s goodness is not limited by your failures or other people’s response to you.
The great story of your faith, the story you see in the Bible and in nature is that life comes from death. You can embrace everything that feels like death right now, and release the things that are changing, the chapters that are ending, the seasons that are over. Let everything fall to the ground like seeds, and trust the God who makes the flowers grow, God who spoke everything you see into being.
Is this hard? Yes. But you can do hard things. Don’t try to do them by yourself, and don’t pretend to be stronger than you are. Say a prayer, go for a walk, choose gratitude, take a nap, call a friend. Hard doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path.
Let these changes bind you to the God who calls you by name, the Father whose arms are always open to you, whose Word has been your treasure and whose Spirit has been your breath. He will not fail you.
He will not fail you.
Are you facing change or other hard things in the coming year? What would you say to your future self?