A reflection by Mary Lou Edgar for January 7, 2024.
I want to be better at something. That is what the whole idea of a new year means to me. But that idea is pretty common. Don’t I want to write something uncommon for you to read? But I keep coming back to the idea that I want to be better at something. So that’s what I’ll write about! Here goes….
As it has been for so many of you, last year was challenging for my family and our church. There have been so many changes, so many opportunities for growth.
In our church the Spirit and our incredible transition committee helped us find a new rector. Fr. Bimbi stayed with us as long as he could and did a great job helping us get ready for Fr. Patrick. Though it was a change, it has been a wonderful one. So many of our ministries keep growing and more people are coming to our church. Our First Friday Walks for Peace and Social Justice have attracted more people and more churches. I could go on but for now that seems to be enough.
In my youth, New Year’s Day was a day when my mother prepared pork and sauerkraut.
It was never my favorite, but it was legend in southwest Pennsylvania that if this was prepared on New Year’s Day, there was a guarantee of a good year. This belief may have been a tradition begun by pork farmers, but who knows. After I married, I told my husband of this custom and he joined in. Over the years, I perfected my recipe, and it seemed good. My kids never liked it, and two years ago, my daughter suggested I give up on my tradition; it didn’t seem to be bringing me good years.
As funny as that my sound, it gave me pause to think about what makes a good year. As a family, we have struggled with many health issues – some very serious. But we have survived and grown. Some of the growth has been hard and none of us love that. For me, I begin each new year by deciding on something I would like to improve. In 1983, my father died on New Year’s Eve. He had struggled with lung cancer and his death was painful and hard. I was angry. I felt he did not fight long or hard enough. I later learned he worked harder than any of us knew. He and I talked a lot the last six months of his life. He talked about forgiveness, but he mostly talked about how we have no control in life; must learn to live with it. As I grew in my faith, I came to see this. I wish I could say I have mastered that, but I have a long way to go.
What I have learned is that I have a great support system.
I have Jesus Christ to lean on. I feel He understands my quiet desperation and not being about to “make it all right.” I know my Heavenly Father loves me, making me feel secure and cherished. And the Holy Spirit guides me and allows me to mess up and learn from what I do. You see, I still think I know best!
I know too many of the last few years of our family’s life have been difficult but we have learned what it means to be loved unconditionally. Not always among ourselves, but by God. I find myself when I’m meditating, turning to my need to control and must get back on track. I know it is important to me, and I know I must work harder each year – my children have grown up. Illness, poor choices, distance from one another, and death together with many other things surround us. And yet each evening I pray with gratitude for the day I have lived. I see how I have been loved and having that love helps me much more than any amount of control.
Each day I learn more about trust. So, I begin 2024 with my continuous journey to give up having all the control. Maybe one day, it will be as easy as letting go of pork and sauerkraut. Who knows!
Happy New Year everyone!
“Faith does not require perfection, but consistent belief that God is in control, and we are to live in accordance to His will. A life of faith is lived in believing the promises of God to be true and believing in them when we are uncertain.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Lou Edgar, MSS, is a clinical social worker who founded A Better Chance for Our Children, an adoption and foster care agency that works to find permanent homes for children in the foster care system. Mary Lou was the Executive Director of ABCFOC, but she is now retired. She graduated from Neumann University and Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research. She and her husband joined SsAM in 2021.