As I write this blog, the sun is shining and considering it’s the end of December, I took a quick stroll in the garden and it was pleasantly warm. I have been blessed with having a whole week off from work without using any annual leave. Yes, you heard that right (still pinching myself). The employer closed its doors to all employees for the whole of the Christmas break and after being a teacher and working for the NHS, I had to ask three times just to make sure. I mean, I’ve hardly had time off during the Christmas break unless it was a couple of days annual leave and don’t even get me started with those teacher years when guilt use to make me mark mock exam papers for years 10 and 11!
This period of recharge has enabled me to gain a decent sleep pattern and actually cook fresh food, to spend time with the kids, to lose badly in Mario Cart. Our resident kitty did a double take that the stranger who grumbles whilst in yoga pants and a thick hooded fleece as they rush back into a Teams call, actually tickled the old geezer behind the ears and rubbed his freely offered tummy. I’m sure he’ll have a meltdown next week.
As I reflect on 2022 with this blog post I’ll admit that it has thus far been one of the more challenging years – from the health related emergencies linked to my mum and myself at the beginning of the year, the cost of living crisis and its impact on my net income, a very challenging change to a new job role. All of them seemingly coming one after another, one could be forgiven into thinking that this is never ending. In some respects, when facing challenges we tend not to have an opportunity to get all philosophical about it and it is always when we reached the other side of ‘drama’ that we can view the lesson learnt. This is perhaps where I am as 2022 draws to a close.
If there is one main thing that has been cemented this year and the past few years, well, actually life – lets say life – it is where I place my hope. Like a student sometimes I have to go over a task an innumerate amount of times before I fully apply and understand a concept. It just so happens that the Lord – being the Rabboni or teacher that He is – has been patiently teaching me to put my hope in Him. Not in job satisfaction, not in family members or friends or people, not even in chocolate and Prosecco. But in Him. And the brilliant thing I was reminded of this year is that He is just a call away, as in just calling on His Name when the proverbial organic waste hits the fan.
One wise bit of advice that I offer you – don’t be like me! Don’t swim in the muck of life and then think “Oh Yeah! I can call on the Lord”. Be more like my kids. When trouble hits them, I hear them quietly praying to Him who provides. Maybe I’m old in the tooth and old habits die hard (the meme of Elmo raising his hands surrounded by fire reminds me of the point that I usually call on His Name), but I have learnt this year to not wait until I feel chest pains and heart palpitations before I call out to Him but to literally offload while stuff is happening.
What I have found this year, has been that immediate answer to prayer, a peace, a Shalom, a wholeness which envelopes your very core and smothers out those flames of fear and anxiety. It’s taken yet another year but I feel so much peace as we enter into 2023 knowing that although it is going to be a tougher year, I know that I will still stand.
As I began to write this blog post, I wonder on what Bible verse would come to mind as I reflected on the highs and lows of the past year and it was Psalm 42, verse 11 which states:
Why my soul are you downcast. Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.Psalm 42:11 (NIV)
May those who read this post have a blessed New Year, may you be filled with the Lord’s peace which surpasses all understanding and may you be filled with His hope to endure whatever gets thrown at you.
P.S. ….don’t be an Elmo meme