An Invitation for the New Year

An Invitation for the New Year
Listen to “An Invitation for the New Year” read by MaryBeth Eiler.

Stick with me to the end on this one.

The anticipation of a new year didn’t produce the enthusiasm it has in the past. While many shouted for joy as the time neared, I felt a heaviness dwell inside. 2020 was a year we longed to leave behind, but the reality that a new year would only carry forward the same burdens left me weighed down. The freshness was stripped away as the burdens of the world lingered alongside personal struggles.

As much as I wished for a clean slate, I accepted the reality that a new year would not clear away the rubbish of the past. Diagnoses, grief over loss, and frustration over division would hold in the new year—this weighty ending a sharp contrast to the dreams constructed at the start of the year.

I entered 2020 having just endured two surgeries: one that helped me regain near-normal mobility and one that removed my chemotherapy port. All signs pointed toward long-awaited healing and restoration. So I made plans and dreamed dreams that had been tucked away for a time—the joy of what could be hard to contain. Then 2020 brought forth unimaginable pain and heartache—dreams dashed, plans rerouted, grief and loss abounded.

I entered 2020 full of hope and 2021 full of trepidation. But therein lay an invitation—an invitation to a road less traveled. An invitation to honor the hard.

The Way Is Hard That Leads to Life

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Matthew 7:13-14 ESV

“The way is hard that leads to life.” These words ring true to my own experiences – the way is hard.

2020 opened my eyes to see this in new ways. As a whole, we had to lean into pain and hardship like never before. It seeped into our lives. And while it created divides, it also brought us together in new ways.

None of it was easy, but it did bear fruit.

We shared struggles and grew in empathy toward one another. We didn’t shy away from pain. We faced our fears, became shaped by our afflictions, leaned into God, and discovered that life can be found in hard things. We witnessed how hard things can break us while simultaneously leading us to new life – a shift back to what matters most, a renewed sense of who we are and what we believe.

Pressing into the hard, we were led to the light. Not by bypassing or opting for the easy path, but sitting with the pain and feeling all the emotions we felt, we embraced the difficult pieces of the journey.

Honor the hard. Seek the good. - @marybetheiler

We honored the hard. A road I often avoid traveling.

Honoring the hard is well, hard. It’s easier to ignore pain and heartache’s presence.

I don’t always make space for the hard like I should but the final months of 2020 beckoned me to reroute. As I pressed into hard pieces of my story, I came to realize that this path opened me up to see and feel even more of God’s goodness.

That’s the part I often want to skip straight to – seeking the good, finding the lesson, crossing the finish line. But I’m finding there is much to be revealed through the process – it’s a place where God’s provision and grace shows up clearest of all.

While I don’t have a word of the year or any New Year’s resolutions for 2021, I feel called to the invitation to honor the hard. 

An Invitation

This is my hope for us this year:

Honor the hard. Seek the good.

An invitation to allow our pain and hurt to lead us to heal.

To notice our tendency to push away pain and lean in in its place.

To allow grief to be our guide. 

An invitation to welcome God in. For when we do, His goodness is revealed. 

May we find a deeper faith and greater dependency through open hands.

May the paths we never would have chosen be the invitation that points us toward God’s provision and grace.

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