The passing of time is bittersweet, with the joy of watching my children grow, but realizing that each day they’re closer to being all grown. With each passing year I strengthen relationships that have weathered storms, but also realize that more years have passed without connecting with old cherished friends. We welcome new life, but also realize that the days are dwindling for others we love.
That bittersweet realization came especially true last week as I visited my ailing grandmother, likely seeing her for the last time. Our family had some time to explore the area, playing in parks I played in as a young child, and seeing family that I love and rarely see. Visiting those roots, and the passing of another year also makes me think of Austin with bittersweet memories. His photos are in that home, from him as a baby to the most recent ones we have, and I was reminded that there are people who remember and love him. That part was sweet, as the only people who seem to remember him are family, and some days feel as the rest of the world doesn’t know he lived. But another year has passed with no word, no answers, no closer it seems.
This was our fifth Christmas without him, and in some ways it is easier and in some ways harder than the first. I was thinking on the families going through their first, and likely not sure how they’ll ever get through another if they must. I remember being them, meeting a family who had been searching for 7 years, and thinking that we couldn’t do that. But we’re close, and if the years continue on, so will we. But I also know that family we met found answers, as I hope we will.
But through all of those thoughts, both of loss and of how much we have, I tried to think of how to start the new year. Last year I decided to begin writing, decided to put my heart on ‘paper’ and share with anyone who would read it. That was a huge leap for me, as I prefer to share my thoughts, but not really my feelings. And it has been good, better than I imagined actually.
I heard Rick Warren speak yesterday (via video). He is the author of ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ which is the best selling book of all time worldwide, other than the bible. Wow. To have that kind of influence and to be used by God in such a way! He said that the purpose of influence is to speak for those who have no influence. I was reminded yet again that while my influence is small, I can use it to speak for those who have no influence- those who are hurting, those without hope, or those with it who need someone to help.
While I listened, and wondered how I could do that more, he went on to say that this year we should look at what we have and throw it down to God. Much like Moses gave his shepard staff to God, and God used it to lead His people across the Red Sea, we can look at what we have in our hands and though we may have no idea how God can or will use it, if we give it to Him, He will.
So this year, I’d like to share my story with more, throwing down the small gift I have to offer. I pray that this year, God uses my heart and story even more than last year, and that I have the courage to look for opportunities to share it. My fears in asking for opportunities to share is something that I can’t overcome alone, but can with Him. So there it is, my prayer for the New Year.
I pray that this year, we all use the influence we have to speak for those who have no influence. That whatever usually gets in our way, from fear to complacency, be pushed aside. That we look at what we already have in our hand and throw it down for God to use. You and I will likely never have the influence of Rick Warren, but we can be used here and now.
Happy New Year!