Happy First Birthday to grace in the darkness! A year ago today, you made your way into cyberspace after many months of gestation (months which I spent researching and planning and writing and designing) and, like any birth, that day was filled with many hopes and dreams, much excitement, and certainly some nerves. It’s hard to believe it’s been this long already — and that some of you are still reading my words after 365 days.
Mostly, it’s hard to believe because it’s so easy to wish that I’d done more. Written more posts, taken more beautiful photos, facilitated more guest authors. Also, I’d hoped for more success. I wish I had acquired more followers, seen more readership growth, been offered more book deals (ha!). I’d hoped for more.
However, despite not being more, it’s been a good, full year. A hard year, certainly, but what year isn’t? As I was preparing to write this post, and thinking about the past year, I revisited many posts from the last twelve months (of course). I revisited the dark places and the questions, the favorite quotes, the letters to my son and daughter, the post about learning to love our family of four and the posts exploring Ed Welch’s book about faith and depression that I found so useful. I remembered my struggles with finding community in New York and applauded my efforts at starting to run again. And you know what? It’s not more, and it’s not the best, but it is good.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how God’s values are so very different from our values. From practically the first chapter of the Bible, we understand that God has different ideas about the world than we could ever imagine. Throughout the Bible, He chooses the unfavored – the younger son, the uglier sister, the less mature child, the poorer citizen, the crippled man; over and over, he uses the broken and the poor and the tainted and the sinful. I mean, He hangs his very own son on a cross to die. All throughout history, God does these radical things because He wants us to see that his values are different.
And yet – why do we continue to value more? Why is it that my effort so often feels not good enough???
I’ve been thinking a lot about my values this spring – what do I really value? Why do I value it? And I’ve been trying to refocus my desires these past few weeks. (By the way, examining what things make you feel defensive or sensitive or angry or frustrated really help to illuminate the things that you value.) I’ve been trying to focus on the things that are true and noble and beautiful, the things that build up instead of the things that break down. I’ve been trying to make more time for people and more time for God.
I’m thankful for more writing work and lots of ideas, for performance opportunities and feeling good about performing. But I’m trying not to let this work define me in the way that I so often do. I’m trying to remind myself that my most important work is the work I’m doing in my kids’ hearts and lives. And that’s true because my most important relationships are my relationships with my God, my husband, and my kids (in that order). I’m trying to be okay with that. I’m learning to be content – and at peace? – right where I am.
There’s one more thing that I’ve been learning this week, as I think about values. Perhaps the thing that I value most is best. I want everything that I do or see or taste or hear or choose to be the best. I want to choose the best double stroller and I want to run my best race (every time). I want to eat the best Thai food and write the best article. I want to take the best picture of my kids, sitting perfectly in the flowers. You get it.
But best is an easy idol. When I focus on things being the best, I lose sight of the big picture – of acting justly and loving mercy and walking humbly with my God. I lose sight of the things that are true and noble and beautiful and lovely and admirable. I forget which work and which relationships are really important and devote time and energy (and often lots of stress and anxiety too!) to other things.
God created light, and he said that it was good. God created plants that grew fruits and vegetables and he said they were good. God created the sun and the moon and the day and the night. And that, too, was good.
For God, it is enough to be good.
And that’s why starting this blog was such a risk for me. I’d be putting my own writing – my own heart – out to the public on a regular basis, but every post would not be the best. Not every idea was going to be the best. In this space, I very consciously set out to write as authentically and honestly and as well as I could, knowing that my words could only move the hearts of my readers through God’s grace. “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — and not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph 2:8-9).”
Being THE BEST was never my most important goal (reminder to self). But it’s been hard for me. I’ve written less than I had wanted partly because I didn’t always have the time to craft a post while juggling my two kids and freelance work, but also partly because I wanted each post to be the best.
So in light of that – I want to say thank you for reading. Thanks for sticking by me and encouraging me, for reaching out when a post resonates with you and for offering grace when I don’t write for months at a time. I want this blog to be the best, but I am learning that it is enough for it to be good.
Happy birthday, grace in the darkness!
Happy birthday, to you.