The Year I Learned to Listen

This year has been my year of throwing on mismatched fluffy socks and devouring Harry Potter page by page for the eighteenth time.

It’s been a year of dance parties with the three year old and dinners with the friends I love.

A year of storytelling and struggling with how to write what I need to say.

A year of admitting that I don’t know how to pray and realizing that God meets us wherever we may be.

It’s been a year of opening doors.


And yet, as I push through the days of Advent while listening to Nicholas sing himself to sleep with Jingle Bells, I feel that this year has been overwhelmed by an oppressive, impatient pull of waiting. It’s in my bones. It’s lingering in my heart. I’m not entirely sure what I’ve been waiting for, but the anticipation sticks in my throat.

If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that in the two years since Chris died, I’ve been on overdrive. And sometimes that looked perfectly healthy from the outside. As long as I showered, dressed in clean clothes, and had a smile on my face – and could say the same for my son – then I could pull off “being okay.”


And to be even more gut-wrenchingly honest, I believed it myself. I insisted I was doing okay. Each day, I’d be a little more okay than the last. A little less shocked. A little less in pain. A little less of a mess.

How could I delude myself into feeling like that? The answer, I think, is primarily because at the start of this year, I thought I had it all figured out. I felt ambitious. I set very specific, far reaching goals for myself and created a vision for the year.

And I achieved every last one of those goals. For a moment, I felt accomplished. Proud. Healthy, secure, productive, and ready for an even greater New Year.


Until the moment when I recognized the apprehension building in my throat. When I realized that achieving my goals wasn’t enough.

I feel empty. Weary. And always waiting.

Because none of this was enough to make me stop missing Chris every second of the day. It wasn’t enough to distract me from stomach-churning anxiety or heal me from the aches of grief. It wasn’t enough to make me believe my life was all that meaningful.

And it was never enough to coax myself into genuinely thinking I could control life with a list of goals and a cheesy vision board.

So this is the part where I step back, get some perspective, and convince myself that I shouldn’t set a single goal for next year.

This a bit terrifying for me. Because it means that instead of setting goals, I surrender to the fact that I’m not in control. Instead of waiting, I choose to listen. I choose to have faith.


It means waking up each morning before being shaken into consciousness by a three year old ball of energy with blonde hair. And instead of groaning and reaching for my phone, I embrace the silence of the morning.

It means saying thank you the second I open my eyes. And admitting that my coping mechanism of being constantly busy isn’t healthy.

It means welcoming the fluffy socks, delicious food, prayer, dance parties, dinners and storytelling with intentions of finding peace rather than of creating distraction.

And I’ll still be here, writing away, wrestling to find the right words. But in the meantime, Merry Christmas, my friends.

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