Different doesn’t mean bad.

Happy New Year!  I can’t believe that as I type this it is the morning of January 1st, 2016.  Where have the days, months, years gone?

As with each year, as one closes and another opens I can’t help but look back at the past year.  I can’t help but be overwhelmed by how very different my life is than it was just 365 days before but also how very different it is than I ever expected.

I’ve been thinking about this very thing over the past few weeks in depth.  I’ve been pondering the idea of “different,” not different in terms of an individual being different than others but instead the idea of events, of life being unlike what we have expected.

This has been my conclusion:
Different doesn’t mean bad, different doesn’t mean worse.
Different just means different, unlike what was expected.

You see, over the past two weeks I experienced my first Christmas and birthday away from my family.  That’s right!  In all my 26 years I have never spent either of those events away from family but this year instead of going home at Christmas I am going for a visit next week.  Many different factors came together to make the decision, but regardless it was made.

And so, I faced my first Christmas Eve, Christmas day and birthday without the traditions and familiarity of my family.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t have pieces of my family with me. Oh no, I had presents from my family waiting for me under the tree and I talked with family throughout those days.  I also wasn’t alone.  I was with my church family, adopted into many families and made to feel part of their group!

And through all those days this was my reoccurring thought: this is different but different isn’t bad.

I wasn’t in the middle of the traditions of my family, or surrounded with faces I’ve known since birth, but the heart of the season was there all the same.  I felt loved and accepted and thankful for the Word made flesh.  I realized that for once in my life everything was stripped away, not in a type of loss but instead in a type of transparency.  This year I was able to put aside the traditions that I had grown up with and to watch and experience the traditions of others.  I was able to see in their traditions as well as our own the very heart of the season.

I can’t help but think about that time years ago when a teenage mother gave birth to the Savior.  When the angel spoke to her I don’t think this is what she expected.  I’m sure that growing up Mary never fathomed giving birth at this time or in this place.  And it was in that time of “different” that the miraculous happened.  Even though Jesus wasn’t the Messiah that all expected, He was the Messiah.

My life from January 1st, 2015 to January 1st, 2016 is unlike anything I could have expected.  I am not the person I thought I would be.  But, different isn’t bad.  It is in the unexpected that I’ve found God’s miraculous presence and explainable peace is found.

Here’s to 2016, a year of unexpected adventures!


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