But this has been a hard year, or at least these past five months have been hard. Deaths, heartbreak, troubled friendships, my aging parents, my uncle's stroke. Leaving our church and dealing with wave after wave of insult atop injury there. I am tired of this year.
My father and me with my Aunt Ann and her family, just three weeks before she died of ovarian cancer
But in spite of it all—and this is the truth—I am filled with joy and anticipation. These things wear me down. I would like sometimes to flee, whether literally or figuratively. But surrounding all these hard things are the good things, the hundreds and hundreds of sweet and lovely things that sustain me.
The hard things took up one small paragraph; the good things could fill a book. I could start with the sweet smile of my husband in the morning and end with something utterly materialistic, like the fact that we have the means to pay our son's college tuition. I could write about the utter joy of listening to the familiar, slightly accented voice of my father as he tells a growing-up story after dinner. I could list excellent health, running vehicles, a new roof over our heads. I could try to explain what the mountains smell like in the snow, or how utterly spectacular it is to see the tall phlox flowering in the spring in the Smokies. I could translate into words the pure joy of laughter, the comfort of friends, the delight in new friendships. I could write about my daughter's utter loveliness, the sweetness of my youngest, the pride I have in our oldest. I could write about the good things that happened as a result of the bad things.
I could say, "This year was really hard." It was sometimes. Painfully difficult. But above all, I am thankful that nearly each day, before anything else creeps into my mind, I wake with a certain sense of anticipation. It is a gift that the Giver of all good things bestowed upon me—the gift of expectation and hope. I don't want to imagine life without it.