Most years, I spend the final days leading up to New Year’s Eve in reflection of the past year.
I eagerly begin making my resolutions, and sharpening my focus for the year to come.
But not this year.
I just didn’t want to reflect on my past year. I didn’t want to think about what worked well, and what didn’t.
Because as I looked back on my past year all I felt was: shame.
Tears fill my eyes, even now when I think about it.
I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish.
You see, this will be the first time I talk about it, but, I attempted to write a book this summer.
For a while, I had really felt God calling me turn Barren to Beautiful into a book.
I felt that barren women, all over the world needed something more tangible than single blog posts. They needed a book. Something they could hold in their hands, while their hands long for a baby. All the truth written down for them to soak in during the barren desert of infertility.
God gave me a clear vision for the book.
I had a team of 10 people praying for me. Our church graciously let me use their office. My husband graciously watched the kids for a few hours several days a week.
It was a good hard run to the finish line.
And you know what?
I didn’t make it.
I didn’t finish.
And Satan whispers to me,
“I knew you couldn’t do it. Even with all that support. Why do you even try?“
When summer ended, I cried. I literally got up early before the whole house one morning, and just met with the Lord, and broke down crying, because I didn’t finish. And I knew the school year wouldn’t allow me much time to work on it–because God had additionally called me to homeschool Selah this year–which would only give me LESS time to write. And then in November, Selah broke her leg sled-riding. And the darling girl has been in a full leg cast for six weeks. (Thankfully, she just got out of the cast, and is learning to walk again.) But everything has slowed.
And while the reasons are legitimate for not reaching my goal…
I still feel a deep, nagging sense of shame.
And the reason I am writing this post, is because I wonder if maybe I’m not the only one who feels shame going into the new year?
Maybe you set out to do something–and you couldn’t do it.
Maybe you really tried to get pregnant last year–and you never did. Or you did, but only to miscarry. And you hold your face in your hands, and let the tears slip through your fingers.
Maybe you tried to get in great shape–but got an injury instead.
Maybe there was some high and lofty goal–you tried to reach–and you couldn’t.
And maybe all you see on Instagram and Facebook, and in your email inbox is people who MET their goals. People who were strong enough. Good enough. Diligent enough.
Just plain old: Enough.
And you feel like you are not enough.
And everyone else…is.
(If you are a mom who feels she is not enough, read this.)
For me, it’s not just the book I feel shame about it.
It’s the house.
It’s not keeping things tidy enough.
It’s this blog–that I wish I could offer more to.
It’s homeschooling–that I don’t feel I’ve planned enough for.
It’s the workout plan–that didn’t happen.
All of those things–and more, make me not want to reflect on the past year.
Because all I see is:
“But that’s not what I see,” says the Lord. “That’s not what I see.”
Tears fill my eyes as I remember one thing.
Shame doesn’t come from Jesus.
And this was something I realized today as I listened to the Journeywomen Podcast with Hunter Beless and Abbey Wedgeworth Ep. 60.
She said that,
“In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we see that God is faithful to us because of his love. Not because we’re worthy. So he loves us not because we’re lovable, but we are made lovely because he sets his love on us. He makes us beautiful. In exchange for our shame he offers acceptance, honor, worth, and even glory.”
Jesus doesn’t love us because of what we have done–but because of what He has done.
This life is not about what we accomplish–but what Christ has accomplished. And will accomplish.
Instead of setting my hope on myself (which will always fail), I will set my hope on the only one who never fails: Jesus Christ.
And often, it’s not my accomplishments that He shines through, but my brokenness. It’s the desperate need I have for Him, where He comes and pours out His mercy in my life.
His grace is sufficient for me. And if it’s sufficient for me, then it is definitely sufficient for you.
Because though we all stumble in many ways, He welcomes us with grace.
And I’m taking comfort today that [click_to_tweet tweet=”At His table, there is a place for people like me. ” quote=”at His table, there is a place for people like me. “]
He prepares a table before me, in the presence of my enemies.
(Even the enemy of my soul, Satan.)
And He invites all His children, to come and dine with Him. He invites me. And He invites you.
He takes your big planner, and your calendar, and your accomplishments, and your phone, and tosses them into the fire. And He stares at you, like a groom, stares at his bride coming down the aisle.
He’s beaming. And you are beautiful in His sight.
Because you are His Bride.
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.“
This is a beautiful invitation to lay down all the striving, lay down all the expectations we have for ourselves, that others have for us, to lay down our desires, our longings, even our idols, all at Jesus feet. And He invites us to come, drink of Him.
To come and drink, of the only River who can satisfy us.
I don’t discourage you from making goals and resolutions. Proverbs remind us that without vision, the people perish.
Intentional living is so good and important. And I look forward to the vision He will give me for the year ahead. But there was something blocking that vision for me.
And it was shame.
And I had to deal with that first, before I could go forward.
And if you, too, dear one, are feeling shame for something you didn’t do, or didn’t accomplish, I just encourage you to bring it honestly before Jesus.
For He is the Light that reveals all our darkness.
He is the Love that heals our wounds.
He is the Righteousness, that covers all our nakedness, and shame.
And New Year’s isn’t the only time we can “reset.”
Because His word says,
His mercies are new every morning.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
I pray that God covers your shame today. He takes it away in Jesus Christ. And His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
And whatever New Year’s Resolutions you set for this year, whatever goals you chase–I pray you will be free from shame.
For there is no shame in Jesus Christ.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) (Reading the full chapter brings deeper understanding to this.)
As for me, before I start making lists, and calendars, and running the race,
I first need to run to the cross.
I first need to run to Jesus, who takes away my shame.
And who loves me, not because I am worthy, but because He has made me so.
(I may be 80 years old when my book is finally published. But that doesn’t matter. Because it’s not about me. It’s about Jesus. And if that’s what His timing is, then it will be more powerful when I am 80 years old, than it would have been at 31.)
His timing is perfect, and His ways are good.
And in His presence, is deep, abiding love.
So come, toss your shame into the fire. And watch it burn.
He will give you the vision. He will give you the strength. He will give you the grace–so that His power is made perfect in your weakness.
It’s a new year. It’s a new day.
And whether or not you crush your goals–don’t crush yourself, or your family trying to reach them.
Because life does not thrive on deadlines.
And that lifeline is Jesus.
So, I pray your year, and your days, are full of Him.
That you see His face beaming at you at the end of the aisle.
For He loves you deeply.
And His mercies are new every morning.