Its the last day of 2016, and we made the trek home to America to spend time with both of our families . This morning I bounded out of bed (ok, creeped quietly as not to wake up either child) and up my parents stairwell to their living room. Its my favorite place in the house and my favorite season, sitting in Mom’s big easy chair by the Christmas tree in a half-dark room with the twinkle lights shimmering. I just love it.
As I journaled and reflected on the year, I was washed over by feelings of failure.
In the hardest season of my life, fighting for my mind under high stress circumstances and with tiny ones I’m responsible for, I failed to love those at a distance. I lived in a bubble (with limited connectivity, with power cuts, with friends constantly in our home morning till night, with late night dinners and early waking babies, with sneaky mold and sick babies, with nauseating mountain drives, with a new business, with unending responsibilities) and every day when the kids went to bed, I was just glad I had made it. I either crashed into bed or stared numbly at Facebook, skimming over the status updates, the election drama far away in another world, the hype about jogger pants that didn’t seem to matter when my neighbors were screaming at each other outside. Anything to numb my brain and sooth my soul from the intensity of our life.
And in this time I didn’t measure up to my own expectations. I wanted to remember birthdays and send packages. I didn’t send one package in three years. I forgot both my dad and my father-in-law birthdays! I wanted to email Stephie, my ever-loyal, longest-standing-BFF, and i rarely did.
But the hardest is that I let myself down. I just didn’t measure up and I didn’t love my far-away loved ones like I wanted to.
This morning it struck me that there’s nothing and no one helped by my self-inflicted guilt. My guilt doesn’t benefit me or the ones I’ve let down. It doesn’t even spur me on to “do better next time”.
What does help is releasing myself from my failures, because that’s what Jesus does. And returning to those I love, free of guilt and self-disgust. When I am free of the misery, I can love better, I can actually enjoy my relationships!
I’m making a resolution this year to love my loved ones better. I’m going to use reminders on my phone and try to create routines for email and texting. But I’m also going to apologize freely and then release myself when I fail. It’s just not worth it.
Because the guilt actually separates us, friends. Resentment actually isolates. And I will choose to do neither.
“Leave behind your regrets and mistakes. Come today, there’s no reason to wait. Jesus is calling.” -Shane & Shane
But there is a silver lining of this storm, and one area of growth to celebrate.
In 2016 I grew to be a better mom and wife (this was a little easier to focus on since my husband and kids were staring me in the face). I slowly released my drive for productivity and recognition. In God’s goodness he showed me how to sit down in the mess and laugh with my kids. He showed me how to love my husband better by doing less pushing and more accepting and more going with the flow. As a result these two tinies are the bright stars of my day, and I can laugh and relax with my crazy fun husband. This year I learned how to live the moments so that I don’t forget them (or at least take more pictures!).
If you are plagued with guilt and regrets, my hope is that you can apologize and let yourself off the hook. Leave the mistakes behind. Move on, even if others don’t, and love yourself and these loved ones better because of it!
Jesus is waiting. Peace and joy are yours for 2017! Here’s to a new year for all of us.