... when we get our new planners and start scheduling out our lives for the new months ahead.
I was never much of a planner gal.
Then my stay-at-home-mom life got a little crazy as I balanced taking three teen girls to two different charter schools and taking care of a Hubby who worked nights, and I realized that using a planner was the only way to keep my sanity and remember which way was up. Plus, adding sparkly princess stickers to my calendar made me smile on the crazy days.
Last month, I found a 2022 planner I liked and ordered it. When it came, the cover was ... well ... interesting:
In case you can't read it, the cover says: "This Life is So Lovely." But the holes are punched on the wrong side of the cover, so it's upside down and can't be fixed.
At first, I was frustrated. I'd spent a decent amount on this thing and was looking forward to a perfect little planner to plan my not-so-perfect life for the year.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how perfectly imperfect this planner was.
I don't know about the rest of you, but for me, life has felt pretty upside down these past couple of years. Last year was especially rough, even more so than 2020. Perhaps it was because 2020 was so completely unexpected and random, while I had high hopes that 2021 would be a return to normal.
By now, I think we've all figured out that "normal," or at least what we used to consider normal, is a thing of the past. While some aspects of normality have gotten closer to what they were pre-Covid, we're still seeing long-lasting effects in what seems like almost every area of life. No matter what your views are on the pandemic or how our country is handling it, I think we can all agree that it's easy to get discouraged by this "new normal" we now live every day.
I consider myself a pretty positive person overall. You guys have probably figured that out by now. I mean, anyone who fills their Instagram feed with unicorns and mermaids and sparkly, happy things is probably viewed as a positive person. But I'll be honest, I've had to fight to keep hold of positivity this past year.
One of the most discouraging and exhausting things for me personally is how divided we've become over EVERYTHING, whether it be Covid mandates, politics, or personal beliefs. While difference of opinion can lead to valuable discussion, more often than not the norm seems to be blasting others with scathing comments online or spouting opinions without taking the time to listen to each other. And please understand, I am not pointing to any one side specifically on any particular subject. I feel there are extremes everywhere, and they are so loud and unpleasant that some days I just want to hide under my blanket and ignore the world.
In addition to all of this, I went through some pretty personal losses and challenges last year, things I'd rather not get into at this time. There were seasons of 2021 where I felt completely lost, helpless, and emotionally drained.
I didn't rise to every challenge with Christ-like perfection, as anyone who knows me can attest. My dramatic self was in full session as I cried, questioned God, doubted every decision I'd ever made, and felt more discouragement than I've probably ever felt.
And yet, through it all, God was faithful. When I was lost, He was there to find me. When I felt helpless, He was my help. When I was emotionally drained, He was my strength. Even when I wasn't ready for His truth or comfort, He was there waiting until I was.
Life still feels pretty upside down most days. I still have a lot to learn, and I still don't have all the answers. But the beauty of it all is that I don't have to. The same God Who spoke the universe into existence holds me in the palm of His hand. He was here for the world's beginning and will be here for its end, and nothing that happens in between happens without His knowledge or permission. He loves me and everyone I care about with a love so deep I will never truly be able to comprehend it this side of eternity. And that, my friends, is my greatest comfort as I face another crazy, hard, imperfect year.
I'm not going to promise anything for the new year, because I hate setting myself up with a bazillion goals and then feeling like a failure when I ultimately get overwhelmed and drop most of what I planned. Even choosing a word for the year feels like too much this time around. There are things I'd like to work on this year with my health, my writing and art, and my relationships with God and with those around me. And hey, maybe this is the year I'll actually blog more than once! But rather than making a huge list in January, I'm going to try adding little things each month to help me reach both short-term and long-term goals.
And when I mess up, as I know I will, I'll give myself grace, talk things over with God, get back up, and start again.
And so, as I step cautiously into 2022 with my dreams, hopes, and plans, I'm handing them over to the Great Author, knowing that whatever this year brings my way, He's got this, and it will be for my good.
My prayer is that all of you, dear readers, will find His peace this year, no matter what it brings. I'll be here cheering you on ... and filling your Instagram feed with unicorns and mermaids to add a little much-needed sparkle to all of our days.