We began our year on midnight, January 1 at home with some party poppers, throw down snappers, toasts to each other’s health and prayers for us to be more sensitive to God’s leading and His wisdom we need for this new year. Our family there had shrunk in size in terms of numbers.
Two were missing at our home this time to ring in the New Year with their friends and new families. While we would spend part of the next day with dear friends that have also weathered storms more severe than ours; the time together, just the four of us was a great way to start the new year.
We've had to realize this past year that forgiveness is a part of living with each other. That our perceptions of what was said or done may not be interpreted the same as they were intended. Sometimes the intentions need to be addressed when there are underlying modes of thinking or habits that have created a blindness in us. We have been learning that we each carry a perspective that is shaped for good or evil by influences that are often beyond our control, and that they influence how we perceive those near and far from us. How we handle our perceptions says a lot about where our ultimate beliefs reside, which everyone has at the very basis of their thoughts.
We've listened to quite a few people speak to these issues from a variety of perspectives and contexts such as churches, Ted Talks, conversations with friends and certain books. Discovering Frederick Buechner's Telling Secrets was one book that sticks out in my mind. There was also Joseph Minich's book Enduring Divine Absence which addressed questions that reside deep in one’s conscience at times when God seems distant. Lesslie Newbigin’s Proper Confidence provided a framework for thinking about faith, doubt and certainty that I am still digesting in my thoughts. Those books set the stage for Peter Hitchens book, The Rage Against God, which I am starting this month, and hope to understand his journey from atheism to faith more deeply than I might have in previous years.
The break from a regular work schedule has been good for me, allowing me time to be more relationship focused and a bit more introspective about this year of changes destined for our family. I hope that we are able to process the changes we may experience this coming year as welcome or even exciting, even though sometimes they may not be easy to adjust to. I do know that they will bring us closer to that time when our understanding will be opened to know fully even as we also have been fully known (see I Corinthians 13:12). And that promise spoken so long ago is, I believe, a blessing to those who look to Jesus’ return to earth, recognizing that His kingdom is not a temporal one like the ones we experience now, but an eternal one.