1. Lesson: Some things just ain't gonna happen, folks. You have to pick and choose what kind of resolutions you're going to make. My 2008 resolutions sure looked great. In fact, the ones I listed here were great, because they were focused on the interior and little things. But I also had some other resolutions tucked away, such as... I'm going to teach an awesome Ancient History course in the fall; I'm going to run a half-marathon and lose 15 pounds; I'm going to clean out my entire house in the fall and start a small tutoring business. Then I was pregnant and in bed for three months. None of those things happened, and it was a little bit of a shocker. The point is: it's okay to have great plans for the Things I Want To Do. But they need to be ruled over by one resolution and one resolution only: Be it done unto me according to your Word. The things I wanted to do--running, teaching, making money--didn't happen; but it was not a failure. It was a victory. Resolution: Put hopes and trials into an eternal perspective. The only point of anything is to become closer to the Father.
2. Lesson: Give the guy a break and let him do his job. About February or March, I picked up a terrifically bad habit of rolling my eyes behind Todd's back when I was frustrated. I justified it by thinking, "Well, at least I'm not yelling at him!" The problem with this juvenile coping mechanism? Instead of helping me love him more for his quirks, it actually reinforced all the resentful feelings in my heart. It's a dividing habit, not a bonding habit. The grace of the sacrament of marriage is not about finding clandestine ways to express my spousal angst; it is about really learning to love how my husband goes about being a husband and a father. If I ask God to give me joy in the Scientist's methodical re-ordering of the medicine cabinet, then His promise in that sacrament is that He will give me that joy. Resolution: Seek joy in what was irritating, so that I may be a less irritable wife.
3. Lesson: The hidden life is a beautiful life. This year was full of opportunities to become more hidden in our little home. The girls are growing and need more undivided attention. Sickness kept me quiet. A beautiful book on the spiritual life deepened my love for quiet prayer. I see fewer fruits--but also realize that seeing the fruit of the hidden life is not necessary. Edith Stein wrote in The Hidden Life: "The deeper a soul is bound to God, the more completely surrendered to grace, the stronger will be its influence on the form of the church. Conversely, the more an era is engulfed in sin and estrangement from God, the more it needs souls united to God. And God does not permit a deficiency. The greatest figures of prophecy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night... Certainly the decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions. And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed.... We may live in confident certainty that what the Spirit of God secretly effects in us bears fruits in the kingdom of God. We will see them in eternity." Resolution: Embrace the vocation to a hidden life. Be bound to God and all afire for him.
4. Lesson: Children belong only to God. I've been struck repeatedly over the years with the radical difference between our culture's view of children and the Judeo-Christian view of children. One side says, "I have a right to have my child/ren when and how I want in order to have those maternal experiences as I choose." The other side says, "Behold, children are a gift from the Lord. Blessed the mother of many." Multiple friends and relatives suffered multiple miscarriages this year; and many of you in the blogosphere have watched women lose infants to SIDS or Trisomy-18. Behold, children are a gift from the Lord. They are not mine; my experience of motherhood is not something I earned or even chose (except in the choice to be open to it). I won't even attempt to give explanations of the loss of children or the pains of motherhood: that would be stupid at best. But I do know that viewing children as a right or "MINE" only causes a more distressing suffering to countless bereaved mothers--more distressing because the suffering seems punitive or pointless. The only truth I can grasp--and that gives some meaning to the loss of a baby--is that each one of us is His alone, and we are given to one another according to His ways, which are not ours. Resolution: Hold the children tightly today, give thanks in all circumstances, and offer their little lives to their Father in heaven.
5. Lesson: We are never alone, even though given my druthers I'd be a hermit. This year, the communion of the saints became home for me. What a cloud of witnesses surrounds us and urges us on to the finish line. Therese, John Paul II, Padre Pio, Benedict and Scholastica, Gianna, Clare, Augustine, John Henry Newman... they all have been simply present along with their countless companions, even when I'm not directly addressing them. They are given to us, not created by us. And how I need them. Resolution: Cultivate these friendships as I would any other dear and cherished friendship.
6. Lesson: Only One can stir my heart, and He's not an academic treatise (although sometimes he speaks through such things). I discovered some great songs this year from Sara Groves. "Jeremiah" and "What I Thought I Wanted" were favorites. But this one expresses my whole prayer for this year and all the years to come. Resolution: Lord God, always draw me closer to you. Let me know your unbounded and incomparable love. Expand my heart to hold in all eternity, all joy, all peace, all your creation, all you are. Give us everything you have for us, only let us give you thanks for it all. And let us trust that in all things you are working your beautiful will and bringing us home to your heaven. Amen.
And, of course, I will be renewing my yearly resolution since 2000: "Don't be stupid." Have a blessed 2010.