Confetti, resolutions, and staying up late are all part of welcoming the New Year. These days, reflection doesn’t just come from laughing through memories with friends and family as we wait for the ball to drop (or rise if you are an Okie). These days, reflection isn’t quite reflection until we do it through some form of social media. The past few years the most popular reflection I’ve seen is “the best nine,” which is primarily on Instagram. I don’t remember actually making a collage of my top nine moments the past few years, but I do remember each of those posts making me think a little more about my “best nine.”
As 2017 started, I remember thinking “it could be difficult to choose nine moments from 2016.” I had too many to choose from! Frankly, 2018 is a different story. The difficulty isn’t having too many to choose, it’s not knowing if a collage of nine photos of my dog would make people stop following me. (And, honestly, how do you choose between the one of him in the mud, the one in his Halloween costume, or the one in his Christmas sweater?)
Joking aside, 2017 has not been the best year for me. It’s been one of those “enough is enough” years. I don’t mean that I haven’t had good moments, I have had plenty, but looking back it’s not been a year of celebrating. It’s been a year that often felt like spinning my wheels, of boundaries and pruning, not-so-pleasant growth, hurt, and disappointment.
Even though 2017 was not a year of celebrating, it is still a year worth celebrating. I am still thankful for moments here and there (and I could come up with more than “the best nine,” I’d just have to be creative to come up with representative photos). I am still grateful for the work God did in 2017. Most of all, I am still hopeful for years to come. Currently, for 2018.
For those of you who also haven’t had “the best nine” kind of year and are ready to shove 2017 out the door, here’s my hope for 2018. I have goals and resolutions too and those relate to my hope in some ways, but they aren’t the same. This is my hope.
Very simply, Jesus. More specifically, beauty.
No, not the kind of beauty that comes in a bottle or a gym membership. Beauty that comes from hardship and mourning.
Isaiah 61:3 (HCSB) says (emphasis mine),
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.
And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the Lord
to glorify Him.
Twenty seventeen hasn’t been a year of mourning, ashes, or despair for me like it has been for some, but it’s been enough that I’m ready for a crown of beauty, festive oil, and splendid clothes. I’m ready for the Lord’s promises that good does somehow come from all the hard things that life brings our way. I don’t expect to magically have every problem resolved in 2018, no new hardships, or “the best 100” next year, but I do have hope that 2018 will be closer to the beauty because I expect to be closer to Jesus–whether it’s through that pruning-not-so-fun-growth or some welcome joy and relief.
So here comes 2018. Welcome, beauty.