In 2006 we rang in the New Year from Hollywood Studios in Disney World. It was one of our very favorite vacations, but, when I look back over the past several New Year’s celebrations, I realize that I’ve made eight years worth of resolutions since that night, but few things in my personal life have really changed. I am not making resolutions this year. I am planning ahead for the 2014 Balm of Gilead. I want it to be one of my best years ever!
Before planning ahead, I have looked back over 2013 to see my successes and failures, as well as some that have been shared with me by readers, friends and family. I hope we can all learn from them.
In 2013, I started a blog and fell in love with writing again because of the connection it gives me with people across the world. I’ve strolled the halls of a Queen’s palace, spent the night in a castle, stood in two countries at once, rode bikes like I was 12 years old again and did it all with people who are dear to me.
I’ve reconnected with old friends, made new ones and been introduced to successful people who truly want to see my blog be a success. And I’ve had my family surround me at Christmas for the first time in 2013. Blessings upon blessings.
The struggles have been tough.
My father had small cell carcinoma, suffered through radiation, horribly burnt skin and surgery. He had hip replacement surgery and amazed us all. He is our rock and the man we all run to for strength. There was a balm in Gilead.
I’ve watched another family member go through an ugly and heartbreaking divorce. I’ve learned from this that you can’t make decisions for someone else – no matter how much you love them and think you know best. “That which does not kill you, makes you stronger,” became the family motto. It’s the faith you cling to – in hopes that on those nights when you don’t know how your loved one will put one more foot in front of the other, you will lay your head down hoping that tomorrow, they will feel stronger and better able to cope. I’ve also learned that just when you think a slithering, forked-tongue serpent could not surprise you with one more devious, joy-robbing, faith-killing and life-destroying tactic….his fangs tear away at your loved ones’ confidence and self assurance, leaving them to deal with the venom that poisons their soul.
I thank God that there is a balm in Gilead.
As the stories continue, coping becomes as normal a reaction as breathing, calling on our faith to be our lungs day after day. I’ve heard the grim and disturbing story of someone who was abused as a child, yet makes strides every day to heal her wounded heart. I learned that healing may not come until later in life, but is a choice we have to pursue. There is a balm in Gilead, but sometimes God wants us to search for it.
Another friend shared with me the heartbreaking knowledge that without a doubt, her mother never liked her, much less loved her. A mother’s love is just expected, as natural as our heartbeat. She did nothing to deserve such hatred. It is a sickness that eats away at her mother’s soul, and while there is a balm in Gilead, it isn’t ask of the daughter to forget her mother’s sickness. No, it is God who heals the daughters’ wounds by giving her a grandchild to love and adore. As she looks into the eyes of that innocent child and realizes the incomprehensible love she feels for him, she feels peace. It isn’t her problem. It has to be only her mother who suffers with this malady. She doesn’t hate like her mother. She doesn’t expect perfection like her mother. And, she knows deep down that she will love this child beyond the day he grows tired of visiting her and prefers crazier music than her version of Spongebob Squarepants.
These circumstances do not scratch the surface of struggles that our fellow American families are wrestling with day by day and year after year. 2014 will be different if we will but plan for the Balm of Gilead.
21For the brokenness of the daughter of my people I am broken; I mourn, dismay has taken hold of me. 22Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored? Jeremiah 8
It is this writer’s opinion that there is no balm in Gilead when there is no mourning or brokenness for the aches and pain of our fellowman. There is no healing in the hard-heartedness of people. Wounds continue to be infested with bitterness, hatred, self-centeredness and the worst of all… indifference. What do we mourn over now? What dismay takes over our souls? What physician do we search for? What do we long to see restored? What healing do we beg for? Is it beauty? Fortune? Fame? Our carbon footprint? Prejudice?
Oh, to know as a people that beauty would be angelic in nature if we would but bend our knee! The riches could not be counted by a people who mourn for each other. Our name would be great among the nations again, if we would awaken to the dismay of the broken hearted. The health of our globe would be restored and prejudice improved if we would acknowledge the CREATOR who formed us to care for HIS creation and care for it as HE does.
Planning for the Balm of Gilead: 2014 will be a banner year – my best yet, if I make it a priority to weep with those who mourn and rejoice with those who have overcome the brokenness.
As the clock strikes 12 on the last day of this year, I hope you do not forget old acquaintances, but pray you drink a “cup of kindness, yet” and that your year will be filled with weeping and rejoicing. And if you are at a party and asked to toast the New Year, a great conversation starter just might be, “here’s to the Balm of Gilead in 2014.”