Monday, 31 December 2012

Annal 190: Tale from a Year in Review

 It's New Year's Eve.

And I haven't written in about three weeks.

I would apologize for this, except for that it has been a very full, very fun three weeks and I have been thoroughly enjoying myself :)

I spent a week with Charming in Ontario (and find myself more than ready for another visit... this long distance thing is not much fun), and while there was able to visit with some of my extended family.  The funeral for my cousin's son occurred while I was down there, but I was unable to physically make it there.

I met Charming's cat and managed to lure him into wanting to spend more time with me (there is something strangely satisfying about walking through the front door and watching as said cat walks right past Charming and instead comes to my arms).

After a week that went all too quickly, I returned home and have spent the last two weeks being fully immersed in my family.  We have played numerous games and had countless talks.  After more than a week of -40 weather and being couped up inside, the temperature has finally warmed and we are able to leave our house.

So that, in brief, is my last few weeks.  But that is not my focus for this post.

As I drove my mom to work today, we were talking about how things have changed in the last year.  And so I want to take some time to review all that has happened, to thank God for bringing me through it all, and to think about the coming new year.

So I started today by looking at the first post I had written in 2012.  It was detailing the beginnings of my reading Keller's The Meaning of Marriage (which I was actually given for Christmas this year), and talking about my thoughts on relationships. 

I had to laugh when I read the following post, Annal 110: Tale from Grace.  The whole post is not a laughing matter--it talks about the beginnings steps in my journey toward forgiveness for all that happened with my past church situation.  The reason I started to laugh is because of how that post started off.  It began with me stating that I had received the most wonderful piece of news ever, the news being that someone thought I was hot.

The reason I laugh is because that someone was Charming.

Apparently even then he was finding ways to wriggle his way into my emotions, no matter how unknowing I may have been :)

And right there I have what were probably the two greatest changes in my life over this last year.

As my dad, sister, and I went for a run yesterday (it was only -15), we ran past our old church.  What struck all three of us was first of all how we didn't miss it.  What really hit me was that I didn't feel this way in a bitter, grudge-holding sort of way.  Every so often I will feel a flare up of annoyance--somebody will say something that will stir up an old memory or emotion--but otherwise I can honestly say that God has helped me get past the hurt and the rejection that I felt from that entire situation.  I learned some incredibly important lessons about grace.  I learned to trust.  I learned that sometimes trusting God with a situation means you don't get the outcome you want, but that doesn't mean it is bad.  Maybe God could have given me the justice that I felt that I deserved, but what would that really give me other than some momentary satisfaction.  Instead, I have learned a little bit more what it truly means to forgive and be forgiven.  I also have a better idea now of what I want and desire in a church, of what I think is important.

Change number two involved the entrance of a Charming.  If you had've told me last January that all that transpired this last year would have transpired, I probably would have laughed in your face in a most unladylike manner.  When I wrote Annal 143: Tale from the Red Coat, I mentioned being flirted with.  Charming was one of those guys.  People kept asking me about this guy who was spamming my Facebook statuses and posts with comments, this guy who could banter with me like no other guy had been able to do.  And I just kept brushing it off.  "Oh, he's some guy I met at my cousin's wedding.  He's just a flirt."  At the beginning of May I wrote Annal 159: Tale from the Late Night Force Field.  God began a work on my heart, bringing me to a place where I was able to see all the ways He had protected my heart and could realize that He would continue to do so.  For the first time in my life, I could honestly say I was content with being single.  I was in a place where I was willing to wait.  Within a few weeks of reaching this point, Facebook spamming with Charming turned into Facebook messaging, which developed into texting, followed by Skyping, and before I knew it this guy was getting a plane ticket and coming out to see me for ten days.

I know that since the summer my writing has been sporadic at best.  This has been a year full of change.  It has also been a year of living in transition (I spent the first few months at school in Prince George, the summer months with my parents working, and the last few months in Burnaby going to school).  This has been a year of me realizing just how much I long for a little more stability.

While in Ontario, Charming's dad asked me where I classified as home.  I had to tell him I don't really have a place I call that.  The closest I come to having such a place is the Arctic where I spent my childhood, but while I would love to go back and visit there, I definitely wouldn't want to end up there.

Perhaps that has been the greatest lesson from this year and the one common factor in all the situations I have found myself in.  Despite everything God has remained constant.  He has smacked me upside the head when I needed it, He has wrapped in His arms and let me cry when I needed it, and He has woken me up to experience a morning in a fairy tale world (Annal 146).  He has proven to me over and over again that no matter what happens, He will not leave my side.  He even gives me relationship advice (there have been times when I will start to feel insecure and I can actually hear Him saying, "Now Jess, what about when Charming did this?  Or when he said that?  Do you really think you need to be insecure?").  He has shown Himself faithful.

In closing, I want to touch on my hopes for the new year.

Today I finished reading my book on the Heidelberg Catechism.  I have also been reading two other books, one on Worship from a Reformed Theology perspective, and The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson.  What has really struck me in each of these three books, is the focus on glorifying God.  All three have been discussing worship and have come to the same conclusion: it's not about the "worship experience" as Peterson calls it, but it is about being God-centred.  It is about glorifying Him, about keeping Him at the centre.  Kevin DeYoung states that "we should be, first of all, Christocentric, that is, centred on the cross of Christ.  Christ is our identity, our passion, and our hope."

In the Lord's Day 49, where the Catechism touches on the portion of the Lord's Prayer that says, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," DeYoung in his commentary makes a good point.  Here is what he says:

"The will of God is not our duty or drudgery.  It is our delight... and yet, it is a tortuous delight.  It requires struggle against sin and the fight of faith.  It means death, death, and more death.  It would seem easier for God to simply annihilate our wills and infuse our souls with His.  But that's not His way.  He prefers slow, glorious growth.  He doesn't want His will in us as much as He wants our will to be His.  He wants us to want what He wants, love what He loves, and hate what He hates."

Over the last year, God has not annihlated my will, but has instead taken me through a process of slow growth.  Justice was what I wanted, but instead I was shown the path of forgiveness.  While it wasn't what I wanted, I can only pray that because of that journey God was glorified in my life.  I didn't expect Charming, but I hope that my willingness to trust God let to Him being glorified.  My life is one of transition, where I feel like I have no home, as if I were a nomad.  Yet as I come to lean on the One who has proved Himself faithful, I hope I can glorify Him.

And that is my wish for the new year: I want to draw attention to my Creator and Saviour.  I want to live a life that is dedicated to and centred around Him.  I want to glorify Him.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Annal 189: Tale from the Snowfall

I'm not even sure how to begin today's post.  All week I have been thinking of the excitement I could portray to all of you about my upcoming break from school, my visit with Charming, my getting to see my family.  And of course Christmas.

But then Friday hit.

And it one swift move a part of me broke.

Tragedy has struck my family, and the result is that one of my cousin's sons is no longer with us.

And I don't know how to deal with this.

I have not been back to Ontario where most of my extended family is in almost fifteen years.  So I have never actually met this young man.  And maybe that is partly why my heart is breaking.  Because now I never will.

This morning I opened my curtains and discovered it was snowing.  There are some forboding skies and a very light dusting of snow that is kissing the tops of buildings and the ground.  It is beautiful.  And as I see the white covering all of the grey I am reminded that there is hope.  The grey of living up here will never disappear; it's part of the structure and design of my school.  But for now the snow brightens it... just a little.  I know it will melt soon and I will be stuck with my gloomy surroundings.  But eventually summer will come.  The grey won't disappear, but flowers will bloom and leaves will clothe the trees.

Honestly?  I have nothing else I can say right now.  All I can do is ask that you would keep my whole family in your prayers.