It is 2014. Two thousand and fourteen. 2013 has passed behind us, and laying ahead is a whole new year, full of surprises, heartaches, and good people.
I am awestruck at how much a single year can hold. How many things can change over the course of just 12 months, what we learn, how we grow, and how we are forever changed. You are not who you were this time last year, and neither am I. We have been changed by all the joy, the struggle, the beauty, and for me, most significantly, the people.
I have always been grateful for those people in my life who are there at exactly the right moment, who know what to say and how to say it, who can make me laugh and who really understand what it means to be a friend. In the last year, I have moved to a new place and I have been welcomed with such warmth and generosity, that it feels like I’ve been here much longer than a year. I have beautifully committed friends back home, who relentlessly journey with me even across such large distances, and I am filled with gratitude for those who stay part of the story with me, and let me stay as part of theirs.
I read something by Anne Lamott recently where she talked about this idea that God assigns us to people and people to us. This is one of my most favourite ideas. Anne talks about how those people we are assigned to are sometimes very annoying, frustrating people, but that it is through these assignments that we learn, and grow, and extend our boundaries and expectations of relationships and people. I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have people assigned to take care of me. And I also know, with the same certainty, that I make them crazy with my petulance, self-doubt, tailspins of anxiety, and poor coping strategies. But at the end of it all, they love me just the same. So wild eh? I believe that God has put me on the caseload of these people, each of them with something unique they can teach me, ways they can guide me, things they say that bring me joy and laughter, and moments we will share that will be nothing but beautiful. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for these caregivers, for their patience, grace and participation in my life. I am grateful to God for sending them to me.
I believe I have also been assigned to others. That there are some who have been given to me for a season, some for a lifetime, and that I am responsible to care for these ones as best as I can. I believe that in caring for them, and giving what I have, I offer the best parts of myself, and find my own joy in the service. There is a quote from a guy named Rabindranath Tagore, in which he says “I slept and dreamt that life was joy, I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, life was joy.” It is a privilege to be assigned as a caregiver to those I have been given, and to do what I know how to do, and give what I have to offer to them.
Elizabeth Gilbert says…
“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
She is beautifully, and wonderfully right, and when I stop long enough to realise the scope of generosity of those who have guided me through, even of what I, myself, have tried to give, I am amazed. So I start this year saying thank you. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. For what has passed behind us, and for what I anticipate lies ahead, Thank You.