It's funny how quickly we can lose perspective.
As Christmas approached last year, we were clinging to the hope that my mom would still be alive to celebrate Christmas. Throughout the holidays, there was an awareness that it was quite likely her last Christmas.
Since then a year has passed, along with another Christmas and every other celebration in between. And my mom is doing better than a year ago.
Last Fall, the reality of terminal cancer was imminent. I remember countless hours spent in prayer, wrestling and tears, bringing my questions before God and asking for God to heal my mom. I was scared to ask for healing, because what if she wasn't healed? Within this, I recognized my own belief that God was fully capable of healing her, but because of my experience with God, He wouldn't. Logically I saw how erroneous this way of thinking was and knew I needed to pray regardless and trust in God, clinging to His goodness no matter the outcome.
My prayers are not so desperate anymore. Things are relatively stable and I have simply become accustomed to life being this way. My prayers are rather often filled with grumblings and complaining (reminds me of some people who once wandered in the desert for a while...). I have shifted to focusing on the negative of the situation and complain of my own weariness.
In the midst of all the complaining and grumbling I have to do, I had completely missed the fact that God has healed my mom! Her cancer is still terminal, yes, but the fact that she is still alive today is a complete miracle and a testament to God's healing in sustaining her life thus far. God so far has given us an extra, completely unexpected year with my mom.
It has been a year of family holidays, celebrating birthdays, delighting in the little ones, playing yahtzee, shenanigans while waiting for countless appointments at the hospital, decorating for Christmas, cooking, shopping, laughing, crying, and waiting. It has been a year that has caused us all to slow down and recognize and treasure the beauty of each moment. It has been a year of miscommunication, better communication, story telling and listening.
As Christmas came this year, amidst being aware of these things, my thinking was focused on the negative rather than turning to God in worship and gratitude for all that He has done. And as I reflect on it, I am incredibly grateful... for every yesterday, for today and the tomorrows to come.
That being said, the gratitude does not invalidate the pain, sorrow and loss that is woven into those moments. Nor does the pain give reason to not be grateful.
And so, as this new year begins, I am focusing on gratitude and praising God for all that He has done and to be enveloped again in the wonder of God and the grace that is so evident in all our lives. I'm learning to integrate the pain and the joy rather than experiencing both as isolated entities. And I want my attitude and my prayers to reflect a heart that recognizes its complete and utter need for God. I want to have a heart that clings to Him every moment, no matter how good or bad things seem to be.
I am grateful for our extra year with my mom and I want to be grateful for each day we still have together. So, no matter what this next year holds, with the messiness and beauty of each day, my prayer is that my gratitude would be surrounded and infused with wonder, praise and trust.