I missed the month where I was supposed to write my 2016 "recap" post. Maybe it's because I didn't want to think about 2016 very much, but I appreciate and love when bloggers are transparent and share details of their lives, so here I am - writing a year recap post in February!
2016 was a hard year for me personally. I remember waking up on January 1 and crying. My four and a half month old baby would not sleep. I know some people embrace it and seem to function fine with little sleep, but I am not one of those people.
In February, Lucy (5 years old then) broke her arm when she fell off some monkey bars. It took a few days to figure out that it actually was broken and go to Urgent Care, so I felt like a terrible mom.
Then in May, David (3 years old then) broke his arm when he flew off a scooter. His x-rays looked like someone had bent one bone and snapped the other in half. It was gross and I felt like a terrible mom.
Then in June, my husband who had been bi-vocational (working full-time in insurance and part-time at our church) came on staff full time at our church and could quit his other job when our senior pastor took another call in a different state. This was (and truly continues to be) such an amazing blessing and welcome change for our family – but like any change, it was hard and took some adjusting to and I often felt like a terrible wife.
Part of the reason the change was hard was because two days before my husband's first solo Sunday, my dad died. He was an addict and died as a result of all the effects drugs had on his body but when that happened, it was like a lifetime of feelings came out and I felt like a terrible daughter.
From there, the second half of 2016 was hard. Other sad and challenging things happened (as they do for everyone) but much worse things could have happened that didn't. I am thankful for the ways that God worked in that time.
But, I made a lot of things about myself. As a result, I gained about 20 pounds. I often felt like I was grasping at straws and couldn't stay on top of anything "normal".
Life goes on. Fun was had. Not everything was fake or depressing. There were many moments of true joy and even contentment. But overall, it seemed to be a season marked as a "valley".
We know there will be valleys in our lives; but how do we get out of those low times? I think one of the answers is (as simple as it sounds) to stop making everything about ourselves.
One of the things I've really learned as I've gotten older is that you (usually) have no idea what people are really dealing with. They post a cute vacation picture and somehow you assume you know everything about them.
You assume the woman with the perfect hair and makeup who doesn't go out of her way to talk to you on a Sunday morning is uptight when you tried to be her friend. You don't understand that she is really struggling with anxiety and deciding what to do next.
You judge and feel so wronged by the woman who said she would help with the drinks at a baby shower you're hosting but didn't show up. You didn't know she just had a miscarriage and couldn't bring herself to attend.
When your kids can't keep a room clean, despite the labels with pictures you put on all the toy bins, they aren't doing it because they hate you. They are simply children being childish.
What's the problem with all of these? We are making everything about ourselves. I'm the center of my universe and I expect everyone else to also have me at the center of theirs too.
So what do I need to do? Stop making everything about me.
We need to look upward and outward. We need to meditate on Scripture to hear what God says about us as true. Everything that He requires of us (that we fail to do so much each day) has been accomplished in Christ. He doesn't look at me (or you if you're trusting in Christ alone) as any of those terrible things we think about ourselves. We have this amazing grace and love from our Heavenly Father that we so often just ignore.
Instead of showing others grace and love to others as a result of what we have been freely given, we make everything about ourselves. But then making it about ourselves just makes us bitter and sad. How tragic!
Maybe you need to quit Facebook or Instagram for a while if you find yourself dwelling too much on how your body or husband or fashion sense or children or MLM success (or insert almost anything) don't measure up to others on your feed. Or maybe you still want to be "connected" but can at least plug your phone in and not touch it (think old school, phone on the wall style) for a set time of day where you have time to meditate on Scripture and focus just on your family.
Maybe you choose a cause or a person to serve well and jump in feet first. Maybe that person (or people) live under the same roof as you.
Maybe you set out to do something new that will cut into your current schedule (like attending a Bible study, inviting more families into your home for meals, starting a book club, watching someone's kids for free, attending Sunday school, etc.) but you do it because you know it will take the focus off of yourself and ultimately bring you more joy.
Maybe you'll challenge yourself to be more intentional and driven by the gospel with your kids in a new way. Give yourself grace when it doesn't work out and point them to Jesus as you remind yourself how much you need Him too.
I know it isn't a one time change. And you do too. I'm not giving myself (or you) this list of New Year's resolutions that will fizzle out in a few days. But I'm going to be prayerfully remembering and trying to stop making everything about me as often as I can. Because you know what? It's one of those things we can do as moms that brings more glory to God and also makes us happier too.