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Words by VLB

A Colorful Life

My review of the year tends to be very black-and-white, without much space for grace.

When seasons end, my instinct is to categorize the past into a definitive success or failure. I often place more weight on the things that didn’t go my way than I place on the things that worked out. I want to wrap 2018 in perfect packaging, tie it with a pretty bow, and file it away in my memory as either all good or all bad. And, unfortunately, my imperfect human heart usually wants to declare it the latter.

So, as the countdown to 2019 begins, I’m wondering: how will I define the past year of my life? Did I grow or stay the same? Were the past 365 days valuable or worthless? Black and white thinking.

As I reflect, I’m realizing the standards to which I hold my year are completely unrealistic. Just one dark day does not suck the color out of the other 364. There’s no way that the past 525,600 minutes of my life were either entirely victorious or one huge mistake.

In fact, I can recall many moments when I felt like a winner and a loser at the same time. With each trip around the sun, life becomes increasingly more complex.

So, before you write 2018 off as a “bad” year, I’d like for you to consider this: our lives are much too beautifully broken to quantify with black-and-white thinking. A full year is impossible to categorize in the neat and tidy way we might crave.

And, I think that’s for the better.

If every event matched my definition of success, I wouldn’t really appreciate life’s little victories. If I always got what I wanted, I would never have to trust God’s plan for my life or lean on others for help. I wouldn't have stories of salvation to share, because I wouldn't need God's interference. However, in an entirely negative world, I might lose all hope. I would miss out on all of the hidden lessons that come from hardship because my view would be shaded by disappointment.

When I look back on 2018, I don’t see my year in either camp. Like I said, this “growing up” thing has a way of illuminating life’s complexities more and more each year. In 2018, I did a lot of celebrating and dancing and laughing and dreaming. I also did a lot of stressing and striving and doubting and crying.

The positive memories from the year filled me with a hope that overflowed into the darker seasons. The more challenging times reminded me just how little power I have, and prompted me to evaluate how much I really trust God’s plan for my life.

I don’t think God wants our lives to be defined in black and white. He created a life of vibrant color for us, but it’s our choice to recognize the spectrum we have access to.

I’ll remember some of my 2018 is sunshine yellow and bubblegum pink. Other parts will forever be deep crimson and bottom of the ocean blue. Even the darker colors are beautiful, though. The harsh seasons are just as valuable as the smooth sailing ones.

We need both trials and celebrations to balance out this thing we call life.

With that, wishing you a colorful 2019.

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