I got out of my car the other day to pump gas. Three boys giggling and teasing each other in the back seat. Noise coming from sealed windows.
As I loaded the gas pump into my tank and turned toward the display screen my eyes caught a glimpse of my gym pants. Chalk marked the black of my pants all the way down. I turned my hands and below the joints of my hands the callouses showed their scars.
I am marked.
My workout lended to exhaustion and struggle; callouses and chalk showed evidence of the fight to finish. I finished. It was ugly and tough, and I wanted to quit, almost did mid countdown. But in the end I finished. I never thought I would be in this position, waking up every day and intentionally exerting exhaustion, discipline and struggle against myself. It’s very counter to my nature. I like things to come easily, with little regard for struggle.
However God has shown me the beauty that comes with struggle.
For some of us, 2016 was a fight to the finish. Some of us fought hard, with every fiber in our being there were days that took all of us to finish. For some the fight was dirty and tough, every inch of your being feels worn and exhausted and weary. But sweet friend we fought and we’re here.
As I looked at the callouses on the inside of my hands, I noticed the outside of my hands had perfectly manicured nails. (Still dusted with chalk and dirt, but manicured none the less.)
Isn’t that like our lives? We can “manicure” the outside to be beautiful, but we try and hide the callouses of pain on our insides?! We’ve got it all backwards.
Perhaps it’s the callous scars on our outside that truly define what we have allowed our inside to become.
A year ago, when I stepped toward 2016 God impressed upon my heart the insane desire for gratitude. I picked up a calendar, wrote down Scripture each day and committed to write down the gifts I was granted. As I sit here today, this last day of 2016 and look through this book I am in awe of everything my year held. All these gifts, these struggles, these “moments” marked me.
I have felt the sting of death and the joy of fresh life. The sorrow of loss and the abundance of gain. The celebrations of birthdays and the celebrations of lives passed on. From field trips, to date nights, new appliances to snuggles before bed. Hard conversations of conviction and change, to laughter insurmountable. Adventures, fears, struggles, joys…..all of it brings me to a place of humble gratitude.
For in my journey of gratitude I found that these moments mark my life.
2016 Marked me.
It marked you.
In many ways it was a wonderful year and a terrible year. But then again every year is. And if I am not cautious, I can stand on the precipice of change and stand my ground. Hesitant for what the new brings, fearful of loss, and anxious against struggle. I can cross my arms and throw a tantrum that I don’t want change, or I don’t want to risk not having a wonderful year, etc.
But the truth is, it’s just another day. Another year. Another chance to determine what will mark my life. What will I allow to mark the pages of my story? Will I accept the gifts of the new days with gratitude?
Today, as every day, I have the choice of what I write on the pages.
You see those gym pants of mine went into the washer, and that chalk came right off. The bruises on my legs healed up, and the callouses soften with time. Those markings may linger or may fade, but what matters is the change that happens within me.
Here’s to allowing the abundant grace of our Lord to invade our lives in 2017! Thank you 2016 for the lessons you taught us. The joy you left us, the struggles that shape us, but most importantly for reminding us that God who calls us His, is never changing.
Happy New Years Friends!