The new year always brings with it a massive amount of celebration, change, and newness. Along with the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, I also get the joy of celebrating my birthday on Epiphany (January 6th), which I think does a great job of capping off the stressful (albeit survivable) holiday season. This holiday season was a bit different, though.
On December 14th, I was officially done with my Master’s degree. I managed to wrangle a 3.84 GP out of it, too. After that came the Christmas holidays. We spent the weekend prior to Christmas in Ashland, WI with my dad’s family, and then we came back to the cities for Christmas Eve and Day with my mom’s family. Although it had a weird vibe this year, everything went swimmingly. As soon as I realized it, Christmas was over and it was time for New Year’s. I spent New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with a new friend, and many of his friends. This was, quite possibly, the most free I’ve allowed myself to be (under the circumstances of meeting a trillion new people in 2 days) since college. Following New Year’s Eve and Day, my 27th birthday came creeping right around. 27 was going to be a big one for me. 27 has always been that age that I’ve attached to “adulthood,” and here it was, staring me in the face.
Like I said before, my birthday falls on Epiphany, and this year, everything came together on a Sunday. Going to church on the day we talk about God’s revelation was a really great way for me to start the age of 27 because I’ll be honest- I was a bundled up mess of emotions. For those of you unfamiliar with the church celebration of Epiphany, it is the day we celebrate God’s revealing of himself to us.
Since most of my closer friends from school are currently on internship, I often get text messages asking a question that will help with their sermon writing. The week before Epiphany was no exception. During the week, I received two text massages from different friends asking what Epiphany means to me. I used a smart-ass answer like “It means it’s my birthday…,” before getting serious. When I got into serious mode, I realized I’d never really thought about it, and I finally had an opportunity to dwell and reflect on this (often over-looked) church celebration . After thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that, for me, Epiphany celebrates the fact that I have no control over God’s revelation in my life, as much as I’d like to think I do. I have found myself searching constantly for God to reveal himself to me in a way that makes sense, and I think I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that God doesn’t work that way.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me this question: “Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve gone off-track from fate? Like you should have bobbed instead of weaved on a big decision in life?” I couldn’t help but laugh because I don’t know anyone who DOESN’T feel like this at least once in a while. For me, I could relate because I feel like this on a daily basis, constantly asking myself if I missed the boat somewhere, and if it’ll ever be back to pick me up. It’s a scary feeling to think that maybe you took a wrong turn somewhere, especially if you think you’re the one in control of your life.
My answer to him was honest and sincere, but as I kept thinking about it, I realized I really believe what I said. I replied, “All the time. Seriously. At least once a day, I convince myself that I f’ed up somewhere with no clue how to get back on track. On the other hand, I don’t believe in a God that works like that, so my only option is to have hope in what the future holds.”
As I was reflecting on this conversation and the season of Epiphany, I think it finally hit me: For most of my post-high school life, I’ve been constantly searching and seeking out God’s revelation in my life, wanting it to look a specific way, and being disappointed and distraught when it didn’t. I’ve lived my life trying to find a happy medium between what it is I want, and what I think God wants for me, and surprisingly, what I wanted always seemed to be what God wanted (or so I made it out to be). But hindsight, always being 20/20, has shown me that any control I thought I had over God and his revelations in my life were completely bogus.
I have learned through many, many hard lessons that I have no control over God’s activity in my life. The only thing I can control is allowing myself to be free to what the Holy Spirit is empowering me to do. Now, this doesn’t make bobbing when I should be weaving impossible, but it gives me the gift of faith and hope in the certainty that God will continue to work, whether or not I get on the boat. If I miss this boat, I have faith that God will send another one.
Do I believe that everything that happens is planned and destined by God? Absolutely not. I believe that sometimes bad things happen, and God weeps with us when they do. Do I believe that sometimes I make mistakes like bob instead of weave? Absolutely. But I don’t believe in a God that only gives us one opportunity to get it right. I believe that God’s undying, steadfast, and unconditional love is a love that wants to see us succeed and be the people God has created us to be. Sometimes it takes a couple tries.
In this season of revelation, I pray that you allow God to work and reveal himself to you. Instead of constantly working to seek out God, be open to God seeking you and your heart. Be open to accepting the faithfulness and love he is freely giving you.