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Grace—For Another Year

So, 2012 has arrived and another year presents itself. Another holiday season draws to a close, and the liminal days of the season give way to the normal, the mundane, the predictable, and the familiar. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I find myself in a bit of a reflective space today as I look back on the past year and ahead to the new one ahead.

It was an eventful year for our family as we moved back home to southern Alberta after six years in Vancouver and Nanaimo, BC. It was a year of difficult decisions, painful goodbyes, warm hellos, happy reintroductions, and all of the other mixed emotions and experiences that come along with major life transitions. It was a year of new chapters, new things to learn, new ways of being stretched and challenged, sometimes in ways awkward and unappreciated, sometimes in ways delightful and refreshing. It was a big year in the life of our family, full of experiences for which I am very grateful, and experiences that I do not wish to repeat for a long, long time.

Theoretically, I suppose one should learn from significant experiences—especially if said significant experiences have happened three times in the last six years. So in addition to thinking about the year just past, I am reflecting on the last half-decade or so—the years in which we left home and then returned again. What have I learned? How have these six years shaped me?  What themes stand out, here at the cusp of 2012?

This morning, in a comment on another post, Dora speaks of adopting a “word for the year” instead of the more familiar list of impossible New Years Resolutions.  It’s a good idea, I think. A single word to anchor and orient and give shape and perspective to our various activities and relationships, our experiences and ideas, and conversations. One word to to challenge and convict and lead us on in another spin around the sun.

So, this morning, I’ve been thinking of a word for 2012. There are many good words, of course, but as I think back on 2011 and, indeed, the last six years, the word that stands out is “grace.” It is a word that I have been on the receiving end of so frequently—a word that I have experienced and enjoyed in such a diverse set of circumstances over this past season. It is a word that, as I have a glance in the rearview mirror, quite obviously winds its way throughout the past six years, however poorly I was able to detect and acknowledge its presence at the time.

It is a word that has come to meet me on the road during uncertain times and unfamiliar places, a word that has surprised and sustained me during moments of confusion and times when I felt overwhelmed and incapable. It is a word that appeared in the words and actions of good and kind people whose care and concern for me far exceeded mine for them. It is a word that has consistently manifested itself in the love of my wife and my kids, often when it was least deserved. It is a word that expresses the very character of the God who came and lived and died and rose from the dead to grace the graceless with new life, strength, and hope.

It is also a word that I anticipate meeting on the road ahead, in the unexpected and surprising and delightful ways that it has shown up in the past. Perhaps more importantly, though, it is a word that is meant to be extended, not just received. Grace is for sharing—in 2012 and beyond.

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