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  • Writer's pictureHeather Simmons

Pleasant & Interesting

Happy belated New Year friends. I'm well over two months late in posting this, but #COVID amiright? I consider it a win that I'm getting it into your hands before the calendar year ends. In my mind's eye I have testy and impatient editors who demand content before shelf life expires, and in this case I'm cutting it extraordinarily close to the deadline. Luckily you are more forgiving than my imaginary editors.

If you've hung around this blog for a minute, you know that I celebrate New Year's Day on October 1st of each year. Check out these posts here and here and here to get the deets on why I celebrate 3 months early. Once you're caught up with the five other people who read this on the reg, you may proceed below.

It was difficult to sit and listen for this year's word. 2020 has yielded lots of broken hallelujahs. I (like all of you) was (and still am) waist-deep in quarantine in October; "famine" and "plague" were the only words I thought could possibly be next for us. Potentially "revelation" just to sum up all future goings-wrong in one nice package. Seriously. I wasn't sure I wanted the word, especially if dark horsemen were involved. A few years back I got "fortitude" for the third time in a row and told God He could kiss my hiney. If that word made it's way back I'd just pitch the biggest fit.

I asked for hope or joy or peace. I always ask for these words. They are so encouraging, so tangible. They are so enjoyable. They are soul-filling and soul-restoring. We need a win, Jesus. Please make the word this year either "rapture" or "megamillions" (see how I squished that together to make it one word? It's God- He can absolutely make mega millions one word if He sees fit). It's gotta be one or the other. For the love.

This year's word from the Lord was laughable. Per usual. It took me literally the whole month of October to wrap my arms around the idea, especially when this typically life-altering month stretched its cruel arms into the 2nd of November and took my best friend from me. I'm only just now coming around to the idea of it, hence the delay in writing about it. Ready? Here it is.


having or showing an excited feeling that something is about to happen, especially something pleasant and interesting.

Wowee did you expect that?!?! Something pleasant might happen? More importantly, I am to plan on something pleasant happening? This can't be real. I spent most of October and November pushing back on this notion. I mean, He almost always chooses a word to whip me into shape. That's nothing new. But this word feels like too much. After all the suffering and loss and isolation we've collectively experienced, it kinda felt like a cruel joke to accept this word, let alone tell you about it. Hope and joy and peace are nouns that can be experienced regardless of circumstances. They are transcendent. You can be hopeful while you witness injustice. You can have peace as you lose a loved one. You can have joy in knowing that this too shall pass. But expectant is an adjective. You are actively assuming that something wonderful is about to occur. You are putting your eggs in a basket that has yet to be determined will break or hold your yolks firmly in their shells. You don't know if you'll be right. You can easily be wrong.

I think that's why I distrust this word so much. It places way too much emphasis on a good outcome, when I've spent my life mastering managing my feelings regardless of the outcome. Just ask my sister. We've talked since we were in junior high about how much better it is to just not expect anything. Then you can never be disappointed. And I don't mean that in a defeatist sort-of-way. I mean that in a completely open-handed way: you don't ask for anything and you're thankful for whatever you're dealt and you move on. I never expected my sweet sixteen, or prom, or my engagement or wedding to be this magical moment that changed my life completely. All of these events are quite pedestrian; they happen to almost everyone. I am not a princess and this world is certainly no fairytale. So I've wasted almost no time in my life expecting things to be amazing. I work hard and do my best and manage probabilities and attempt to control outcomes. I am optimistic and cheerful and hold onto hope for the WORLD, but don't extend that energy to my everyday experiences. So based on the way this year has unfolded, you can bet that my default for next year is to actually expect the worst.

But here's the thing: after wagging my finger and rolling my eyes and telling Him I'm no fool, He said a few things back. Expect good things from ME. Expect me to move in this world. Expect my people to be a light in the darkness. (That last part was a bitter pill.) Expect good and perfect gifts. Please see Chronicles and the Psalms and James if you need more direction, child.

And just like that He flattens me. And the next day a terrible human being with cruel intentions loses an election. And my jaw that has been tense for months relaxes just a little. The massive student loan debt that has been deferred since March allows me to redirect funds to my car and I pay it off. And I sigh with the slight relief of eliminating one more debt after being a single-income family for over a year. More black and brown people are nominated for positions of power within our government for the first time ever in the history of our country. And the heart palpitations that I've experienced this year subside. Two weeks go by without the constant worry at the discomfort and suffering of my dog, and I see that this too has been a gift. Announcements of potential vaccines hit the newspapers. And the cords of anxiety start to unravel at the thought of one day being able to see my family without killing them. Little by little things seem to get better.

Things are in no way righted. We are not "back to normal". I know there is a long row to hoe and lots of hard work left to do. But He has given me pinches of pleasantry, small little dollops of goodness to convince me (because sorry I'm always Doubting Thomas in this bible reenactment) to be expectant for more. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I expect the new year to be pleasant and interesting. Maybe it's because the bar is so low that I feel comfortable making this gamble. Maybe I'll allow myself to be a little excited. For now I can promise obedience and optimism. It can't possibly get worse, can it?

I know. Famous last words.

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