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    The Hope of a New Year

    January 10, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    It is only the 10th of January. The year is still blowing freshly through our lives. In fact, considering that the flu has just now vacated the premises, the new year began approximately yesterday for us. And so I find myself again considering what I wish for in this new year. I’m not speaking of a resolution. I don’t want to resolve to do anything. It is more along the lines of a hope: who do I hope to be at the end of another year?

    Last year at this time, I was great with child, and terribly nervous about not only being a mother of two {for I was told two would be quite different from one}, but the mother of a girl. And now I find myself at the end of the year to be a mother of two who is no longer overwhelmed by that thought, who actually wants more children, and who is gaining a vision for the raising of girls.

    Culture had pressed in hard last January, whispering to me that girls were harder than boys, that two was exponentially burdensome and tiring, and I had listened a bit to its lies. But by the end of the year, the Lord has been faithful to deliver me. And so now I look to see where the world has a hold on me this year, and burst with the hope that I shall be free by another year’s end.

    I think that I long, more than anything, to be free to delight in this simple life God has given me, in my loving husband and two sweet children.

    You see, I am influenced by all the negativity around me. When big and pregnant and tired, people invariably said to me, Oh, you poor thing. And I put on my best miserable face so they would feel right. How could they possibly know that a year previous I had been mourning the loss of my unborn child and that this pregnancy was a sure sign of God’s generosity? But I wanted to satisfy, so I frowned as best I could.

    Later, when I was at the grocery store and purchasing size 5 diapers and also size 1, I heard it again: You poor thing! I didn’t feel poor at all, and I was so aware of it that this time I turned to joking. I mumbled something about yes, I was poor, what with the cost of diapers and all.

    The list goes on. Life can and must be a burden in this world; the culture demands it. I cleaned my house today. Ugh, I bet you hated it and you are glad that it’s over. I did three loads of laundry today. Don’t you just hate laundry? My husband rarely cooks. I cook twice a day, because everyone is always home and hungry at lunch as well as dinner. Are you kidding? You deserve a break! Well meaning people reaffirm this mindset of life-as-burden.

    But can I tell you my secret? Sometimes I really like cleaning my house, or at the very least I don’t mind it because I consider it part of being a woman, and so it almost feels like an expression of my feminity to care for my home, to take the parts that have become ugly and transform them into something beautiful again. And most of the time, I love doing laundry. E. and I do it together, and he is such a good helper. When you are three, folding rags or putting away your own clothes is very exciting, and that excitement is very contagious. And sometimes, it is tiring to cook all the time, but mostly I like to cook, and the menfolk are always very grateful.

    So you see, I am realizing that not only am I letting the attitudes of this world influence me to grumbling about blessings in my life, I am also being dishonest. I hope that by the end of this year, God has grown me into the kind of person who isn’t afraid to delight that I get to serve my husband, that I get to care for my children, that I have a house to clean, that I have clothes to launder, and that He gave me a mother who could equip me to do many of the tasks of womanhood.

    I am not saying that I never feel the press of life upon my heart, and that there is never any unsatisfied longing in the recesses of my soul. But why manufacture discontent for the sake of conformity? Christ freed us not only from sin, but to a life of service. To serve and care for others is to live out our calling, and to live out our calling is perhaps the greatest source of satisfaction I can think of.

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