Looking back on 2012, I realize that what has brought me the most joy has been the relationships in my life. I’ve loved watching my kids enter new stages and witnessing their relationships with each other and with relatives grow over the past 12 months. I’ve seen huge strides in my marriage as we work together (and settle plenty of disagreements) fumbling our way through this thing called “parenting.” I’ve been grateful for new friendships while I cherish the old ones.
I’ve been tickled every time I get a letter in the mail from our sponsored child in Africa. Getting to know him over the past year has been such a blessing. I’ve been humbled as God has given me the opportunity to meet the needs of people who are just strangers to me but children of God’s. There have also been relationships that have caused pain, yet are being healed through forgiveness.
Most of all, I am so grateful for the peace that God has given me in 2012. Peace that comes as I walk closer and closer to Him. Peace that fills in the gaps that come with waiting on Him. Peace that I do not need to be anyone but His.
Last year, like every other year, I made a list of resolutions for 2012. Looking back over that list today, I realized that I can only check off a few of them. Some I found hilarious, like the one that said: I will change the lever-style handle on the pantry door to keep my toddlers out and my sanity intact. (Just last night Jake turned that same knob… yep, the one I changed in January… and helped himself to some jelly beans!)
Some on the list are good goals to keep in mind all the time, like exercise and choices regarding my diet and health. But over half of them involved working on some kind of relationship…. My children, my husband, my family, my neighbors, my friends, and yes, even strangers.
Looking ahead to 2013, a new year with lots and lots of blank pages, I decided to take a new approach to the whole “resolutions” thing. Exactly a year from now, I hope and pray that those relationships I’m thankful for today will grow even more in the next year. I was reading in Matthew this morning out of The Message translation, and I realized that I do not need a To-Do List for 2013. Matthew 22:37-40 makes it pretty simple:
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
Earlier this month, Jake and Lilly helped paint some clothespins for an art wall in the corner of their playroom. With two kids bringing home artwork weekly, the fridge was quickly becoming overcrowded with glitter paint, pom-poms and cut-outs.
So with a couple of hooks and a long piece of string, we made our own artwork display. As I read this verse in Matthew, I thought about those painted clothespins. I thought about how those tiny wooden pegs are the only things holding up their precious art.
In my own life, I know that the only display of beauty I could ever hope for in 2013 must hang from those two commands that Jesus talked about… Loving God and loving others. Nothing else really matters. Without those two pegs, everything else would fall. Nothing will hold up on the clothesline of life without LOVE. Without my dedication to grow in my relationship with God and in the relationships with those around me, my list of resolutions is only a bunch of empty good intentions.
After walking into my kids’ playroom and getting an instant visual of what Jesus was saying, I looked up the word hang. The Greek word used in this verse is kremannymi. It’s the same word used of one hanging on a cross. Through that one little word, God reminded me that the only way I am able to even attempt to follow these two commands is through Jesus and what He did when He hung on a cross for me. Because of His sacrifice, I can have a relationship with God that is real and thriving. Because Jesus lives inside me, I can love the people in my life who don’t always love me back. The command to love just goes back to how great God’s love is for us that He would come to this place just to save us.
So, with a freeing sense of priorities aligned, and an overwhelming desire to love a God who loves me just as I am, I’m committing to keep this verse as my focus for 2013 and for the year after that and the year after that and the year after that.