As I type the fam and I have just returned home from an outing to mark the last day of the year. We have been in a season of great loss and illness in our family so we were overdue getting out and setting our minds in a different place. We took the kids to eat at Cracker Barrel compliments of a generous gift card from a beloved friend. Then it was off to see Tintin. (It was okay-ish. Nothing as great as We Bought a Zoo which I bawled through.) Afterwards we took the kids back to Walmart to let them release the Christmas money struggling to be freed from their wallets and then topped it off with an ice cream sundae nightcap from DQ.
While we were eating our desserts, Luke told each of us to look to the person on our right and say something kind to them. Because Luke is the master of creating an awkward moment, he asked one of the employees to say something kind to Elijah since Sawyer was struggling to come up with something viable. The girl said, “Ummm, he’s very handsome” at which point I thought Elijah would implode leaving a black hole in his place. It was classic. With the small amount of breath I could muster from the most sincere belly laugh I have had in weeks I said, “Elijah, we are just making memories!” He said, “Memories I will spend the rest of my life trying to scrape from my mind.” He loves us. I know he does. One day he will value that moment. One day far from this one when he is mortifying his own children and re-labeling it “Memory Making”.
But I do know how he feels presently. It seems the events that etch the deepest grooves in our brains are the things we want to think about least. It’s the simplicity of moments like we just had as a family sitting around a table laughing and belonging and loving even when the last thing we want to do is say it in front of a restaurant full of people that seem to get lost and float away as easily as one year gives way into the next. I sat there tonight looking from face to face and the fullness of life and connection and timelessness were not lost on me. I said in my heart, “Please God, don’t let me forget this” while Elijah was begging for just the opposite.
The whole scene made me think about how this year has been wonderful and terrible. Sorting happenings into each of those baskets isn’t as easy as it seems. If I could hold the major life events in my hand and turn them just this way or that, each could go either way. The inherently terrible has in many ways turned out for our good. Some possibilities that seemed exciting at the inception have proven fruitless. The lustre of joy, gain, deliverance, and acceptance wouldn’t be quite as bright absent of the dark contrasts of sadness, loss, devastation, and rejection. Hard things. Needful things. Things that threaten to overshadow if not kept in proper perspective. Things whose value isn’t revealed until much later.
As our family and I move into 2012, it isn’t with grand resolve to stop eating chips and salsa or start running or stop being late to church. And school. And everywhere. Resolve suggests failure doesn’t factor into the equation. The truth is I blow it. I lose focus. My path isn’t always clear and sometimes I am profoundly sad when I grow weary of bearing my own loads and those of people I love. I prefer promising to persevere until the Lord rescues me from myself. I’m also praying the Lord will grant me the grace to hold on to hope in the midst of dark glories remembering how they prepare the stage for brighter ones.
And I’m praying He will give us all the strength to embrace both in 2012 and beyond.
(You’re welcome for the cheer up. Grin.)