Waiting for the Gift Photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash

On the Side: January 2023

New Year, No Fear
Carol Shrader

It is a foggy morning at my house and I just filled my fourth garbage bag following the departure of my Christmas guests (full disclosure: my mom is still here after airline troubles delayed her flight by a week!) I am not ready to un-decorate yet as we love to savor the Christmas lights for a bit as we enter the new year. The deep sigh of tidying up is truly palpable — getting things back in their place somewhat and organized so that the new year can begin.

As a child, I loved a new school year in the fall — my excitement for the potential of meeting new people in my classrooms was the same every year, palpable, visible, obvious to all who knew me. I didn’t sleep more than a couple of hours in anticipation and wonder if my bounce into the school was obvious or just in my memory.

The change to a new calendar year has the potential to be that as well — the wonder of what 2023 will bring, the hope of a new clean slate, the anticipation of learning, growing, reaching new goals.

But unlike little me beginning a new school year with enthusiasm, the changing of the calendar year has not always been filled with wonder.

Wade was an intern in 1999. The news was full of warnings and doomsday predictions for Y2K. I had three littles – triplet two-year-olds – and Wade was on call at Mayo. I wasn’t really fearful, but there was that little worry in the back of my mind that was a smidge scared because I wouldn’t have him home as the clock struck midnight. As the clocked moved closer, with the babies sound asleep completely oblivious to the date, I had to fight the worry actively.

We were DWT (done with training) when the new year rang in 2013. We knew our son required a major surgery that year and as the clock ticked down on New Year’s Eve, I desperately wanted to freeze time, I wanted to stop the ticking, freeze the ball in Time’s Square, keep it 2012 as long as possible. I was flat-out petrified for the year to move forward.

In January 2018, my husband moved to begin a new job several states away (From Mississippi to Delaware), the triplets were in mid-Junior year of college in Mississippi and because Benjamin requires my assistance to manage his care (he has Cerebral Palsy), we opted to have Wade commute back and forth between states until college graduation in 2019.  Our daughter Claire was leaving that month for her semester abroad in Argentina. And so, as the clock ticked down on New Year’s Eve 2017, I was once again, a nervous wreck. What in the world would a long-distance marriage look like (spoiler alert: it was hard!)? Would Claire be ok so far away for months on end? And really, how would I deal with missing both my husband and my daughter so desperately?

The reality is that sometimes the New Year is not filled with confetti and anticipation. Sometimes it feels more like darkness and dread.

I wish we were sitting together, and you could tell me your hopes, dreams, and yes, fears for 2023. I am even now praying for the year ahead, asking God to comfort each of you, to remind you that He is not surprised for anything on the horizon.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16 NIV).

2023 has been written. We may not see fully what is ahead, but rest assured dear ones, God does. And we can rest in that knowledge.

Carol Shrader

Carol Shrader looks forward to the wonder of deepening relationships in 2023, of watching her adult children meet new challenges, and her teenager to continue to blossom. She is giddy for what the new year might bring!

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