Charter the best voyage for you in 2022
Did you feel pressure to produce a good family Christmas card this year? In our post-social media world, there’s a push to have a fashionable aesthetic with effortlessly coordinated outfits that speak to your family “vibe” or, dare I say, brand. So were your kids skater-chic, or boho-holidays this year? Or maybe you went with tartan plaid for a retro feel?
It used to be all about the end-of-year letter. Remember those? I have distinct childhood memories of my folks perusing word processed letters on holiday stationary over their morning coffee. These letters had proper signatures and bore the markings of families who worked hard for their news. These families were non-stop sports awards and honors and instruments. And the travels! Our family generally chose hosting and lifestyle over travel, so the letters boasting about multiple trips each year seemed so exotic to me. For all I can remember, these letters were pontificating about adventures to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, but to my young ears it might as well have been Beijing and Kathmandu. More than the details, I remember my parents’ subtle side comments and gossip. Nothing good seemed to come from those letters. At best my folks were moderately entertained by their friends’ recounting of their year, and at worst it brought out obviously envious criticism.
The traditions have changed with time, but the pressure to give account of our year as a family is still there. If it’s not a family picture aesthetic, maybe it’s the question of what our kids have accomplished and learned. The way our kids’ behavior and capabilities reflect our parenting is a common new pressure.
What if I asked you to write your next year’s Christmas letter right now? If I asked you to pen your 2022 family announcements this month, in future tense, about all the good and enriching things in your life, would it feel forced or presumptuous? It shouldn’t! The letter should just remind us that the actual things we do are less important than the posture in which we do them. And more importantly, it would remind us that we believe. We just celebrated a seemingly fantastical Christmas story of cosmic glory about a Father who loves his children with a tender and vigilant love so powerful it pulls us north toward him for our entire lives. This should certainly shape what we believe about our future.
If love believes all things, and we know the greatest love of all, then the belief this love produces in us can surely say that this is going to be a very, very good year.
What if, instead of turning to resolutions this month, which ironically forces us to look backward at our discontent, we looked forward to our intentions instead? What if, instead of flipping through the tattered mental Rolodex of ”things we want to change about ourselves and our lives” every January, we decide to declare our hopeful beliefs for the upcoming year and tell our friends and families all about this plan?
So go ahead and take one last look at the faces of your nearest and dearest whose photos and cards you’ve had hanging on your fridge all season. Shed any desire to impress them or a need to prove yourself — because you are bragging on God’s promises, not your own accomplishments! — and draw up a letter about your family plans this year. Don’t make a list of where you might be flying on spring break or road tripping at the end of August; write out a vision map of where your family is really going this year.
The letter would start with something like:
Dear family and friends,
This month we are resting in the post-holiday glow of hope. We are loved and chosen and purposed by a Christ incarnate! We might choose some family goals to guide us into the year, ones that simply reinforce the family values we already have and the character traits we are already developing in our children. We will compliment and honor the strengths of one another and gently address any of our intentions that were neglected in the busyness of last season. We will journey together into the new year, looking forward to all the exciting things ahead.
You would go on to name specific qualities and characteristics of your children to compliment. You would talk about the celebrations you will host and the accomplishments you will mark with joy and congratulations. You might even mention goals you will meet or challenges you will overcome. You can talk of family gatherings full of graciousness and love. You can do all this with confidence because life will indeed unfold this year, and you have every reason to believe that it will be good.
And if, on your voyage of this year, you get to do all these things without the interruption of hardship or trauma, what a beautiful year of smooth sailing you will have. Or if on this journey you encounter unforeseen struggle or even just the rough waters of motherhood’s challenges, you will grab hold of your Guide, and invite friends and community on board, because this year has a no cancellation policy, and you are on course to weather the storms with all hands on deck.
Even if you have to journey under duress, your destination — a greater intimacy with God and a more fulfilling life of purpose — remains the same and is already waiting for you to arrive and check in. So you can write that letter in ink and send it out because we believe with you that your intentions will align with your destination. If your true north is locked in your sights, then the world really is yours for the taking. So plan big and pack light. Bon voyage, mamas, from me to you. May belief be your trusted guide in 2022.