As 2019 comes to an end, several posts have been circulating on Twitter calling on users to reflect on their accomplishments over the last decade. I mentioned this to my husband and we spent some time thinking about what the last ten years have looked like for us in terms of accomplishments.
We both finished college.
I got my first teaching job and he got his first job as a police officer.
We brought home our first child.
We bought our first home.
We made friends with other grown-ups (possibly the most impressive success on this list).
We brought home our second child.
We moved to Mustang with dear friends to plant a church.
We sold our first home.
We both got great new jobs.
We brought home our third child.
I finished graduate school.
We both started brand new jobs that we really love.
We put in a lot of hard work over the last decade, but when we really thought about what those years were like, the “accomplishments” list didn’t give the full picture. Yes, we had many “successes,” but we also had some serious struggles.
We lived on minimum wage.
We both got passed over for jobs we really wanted. Repeatedly.
We attended several funerals.
Our families went through multiple divorces.
We dealt with all sorts of crazy family issues.
We’ve had mono, gall bladder removals, stomach issues, depression, and anxiety.
We moved into a house infested with fleas.
We somehow paid 2 mortgages for 5 months.
We racked up some serious debt (an unfortunate side effect of having 2 mortgages).
We walked through the most difficult year of our lives.
We cried with friends who were suffering deeply.
We mourned broken relationships and we lost friends.
We had the absolute worst fight of our entire marriage.
We wondered if we never should have moved to Mustang.
As we talked over the difficulties of the last ten years, it was crazy to think about all we’ve been through. Even so, this list also fails to capture what the last ten years were really like for us. After thinking through all the things we’ve “accomplished” and all of the things we’ve endured, we came to a more accurate conclusion about this decade:
In everything, our greatest successes and our lowest, most difficult struggles, the Lord has been near to us. And in his nearness, he has been very, very good to us.
As I was thinking about all the good and bad that God has seen us through, Psalm 23 kept coming to my mind:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In everything, he has been with us, even if at times we felt alone. He has been our rest. He has sustained us and enabled us to keep moving. He has graciously (if sometimes painfully) led us out of sin and into growth. He has walked through suffering with us for his glory and our good. He did not leave us in our darkest moments. He calmed our fears. He provided for us over and over again. He has given us such a grace in giving us the church. Our needs have been met many times over by the church (the church universal and The Well Church specifically) - through financial help, friendship, correction, and love. He has consistently reminded us that he has called us to obedience. He has given us grace upon grace, blessing upon blessing. His goodness and mercy had no doubt followed us through every bit of the last ten years; he has consistently met us in every moment, and he has consistently forgiven, consistently restored. He has reminded us again and again that no one can keep us from his love, not even us. Like dumb little sheep, we’ve wandered away from him time and time again, yet without fail, he has come to get us and bring us back every single time.
I could list out my goals for the next decade (read a parenting book, teach all my kids to do their own laundry, go back to school, pay off my student loans). I could also anticipate the difficulties we’ll face (more funerals, our parents getting older, living with teenagers). But really, I want to be faithful to the Lord, as he has been faithful to me, regardless of what the next ten years bring. I will doubtless have times of mourning and times of rejoicing, and in all things, I know the Lord is with me. His goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.