Happy 2017 everyone! Another year full of ups and downs and here we are, ready to embark on the next 365 days and see all that we can fill them with.
For many there will be big changes, and for others, small changes along the way that will ultimately feel quite big in the long run. As I sit down to write this, I’ve pulled out my own list of “priori-me’s” to remind myself of all the things I want my year ahead to include — with a big emphasis on taking care of myself (thus the spin on the word priorities). When I look at that list, there’s things like “register for a half-marathon,” “sing at an open mic night,” “travel to at least two new states.” But when I re-read my list I realize that nowhere on that list does it say, “go to Church consistently,” or “pray more, worry less,” or simply, “develop a better relationship with God.”
In an effort to take care of myself, I’ve altogether forgotten the One Who takes care of me best. So, where do I go from here? Well, re-establishing any relationship can be challenging. It often takes a fair amount of courage and humility to step up and say, “Hey, it’s been awhile, and things maybe haven’t always been great between us, but I’m willing to try again.” Just recently, did this very encounter happen with one of my oldest and most meaningful friendships.
At a friend’s wedding — because I’ve reached the phase of my life where I get to celebrate such joyous occasions — someone was watching out for me when an old friend stepped back into my life. It hadn’t been since high school that this person and I had truly connected, and college and life sometimes distracts you from things that should remain a constant. Yet here we were, almost 10 years since the last time we’d seen one another, picking up nearly right where we had left off, laughing and cringing over those high school moments of what at the time seemed like the whole world. Things have happened in both of our lives that make us very different people from who we once knew each other to be, but what should have come as no surprise (though it never fails to touch me when it happens this way), was the sincere and genuine understanding I felt pass between us as we sat on our own in a moment of quiet conversation.
Just this silent acknowledgement of the passing of time, of its now seeming insignificance in the face of forgiveness, of what might lie ahead for our friendship — isn’t this exactly reflective of how our relationship with God should be? He’s always there, always waiting for us to return to Him. There’s no time line, when at a certain point God checks His watch and says, “Well, time’s up, they had their chance” as He turns His back to walk away. Instead, He patiently waits.
As we fumble around, make excuses for doing or not doing certain things, and lose focus — He waits. It reminds me of Tom Booth’s song, “Here I Am,” in which he sings, “Here I am, standing beside, here I am; do not be afraid. Here I am, waiting like a lover. I am here; here I am. I am here in the face of every child. I am here in every warm embrace. I am here with tenderness and mercy. Here I am, I am here. I am here in the midst of every trial. I am here in the face of despair. I am here when pardoning your brother. Here I am, I am here.” The song is lovely, and I encourage you to listen to it, as these lyrics have been abbreviated for the purpose of this article.
But for my purpose today, it just serves as a reminder to me that whether I am intentionally seeking God out every day or not, He remains by my side. Whether I’m ready to take that step and say those words, “Hey, it’s been awhile, and things maybe haven’t always been great between us, but I’m willing to try again,” He’s there, ready to hear them. Knowing that, I’m going to look back at that list of “priori-me’s” and re-evaluate what taking care of myself really looks like. I hope you’ll hold me accountable, and I hope you’ll do the same. Blessings for a safe and warm January.
Anchor columnist Renee Bernier is the Coordinator for Academic Coaching at Bridgewater State University. She still works with youth and young adult ministry, particularly helping to prepare high school students for their college experience. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.