2015 was a hard year. Every time I say this, sitting on her lime green vinyl couch, my therapist reminds me to look at it through a lens of growth, from the perspective of someone a little further down the road from those moments that made it especially hard. When I put on her glasses, I see a woman who has traveled from full-time work without margin or a moment to breathe (or work on the book people keep asking her about) to the person I am today, who proudly calls herself a writer when people ask her what she does.
I made some important and terrifying decisions in 2015. My heart was broken. I fell back in love with my hometown. I went to a wedding on a first date. All I wanted to do in the cold heart of December was curl up and sleep until it was brighter again.
In the silence and the gloom, I began to hear a whisper of my own voice from long ago. I often wish that some parts of my religious education were different, but I am thankful for all those verses I memorized “word perfect” including these words from Proverbs 31, which speak of a woman of valor: “she can laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25b). I could still hear it echoing through the brightly-lit gym with the orangey-brown carpet.
I have wrestled with the great to-do list the church placed on my shoulders through that chapter, learning only recently that it is sung each week in Jewish homes, a way of praising the unseen acts of women who work hard, often for little reward.
As it occurs to me, I turn it over in my mind, thinking about the year that stretches before me, looking bright and new and full of possibilities, just as 2015 did, just as 2015 indeed was. Can I laugh at these days to come? I wonder.
Once this thought finds a home, my mind wanders back to Sarah, Abraham’s wife back in Genesis. God promised her a son in her old age and she laughed. As soon as I make the connection, I can’t believe I’ve never made it before. Sarah laughed at the days to come. She laughs because it seems impossible, and because everything is ruined. Her husband has a son already, because she took matters into her own hands, sending in her slave to further the family line. Things are in a mess. She is not laughing with confidence, but with disbelief.
“Is anything too wondrous for the Lord?” He asks.
Sometimes I sit in my therapist’s office and tell her that I feel like nothing will change. I’ll never meet someone I want to spend my life with, I’ll never measure up to my own standards of success, I’ll never beat my anxiety, or learn to forgive so it sticks. Lately, when these thoughts rise in my mind they are quickly countered with: is anything too wondrous for the Lord? And I begin to cry.
So this year, I’ve decided to practice making a home in laughter. I’m going to laugh wildly, and through tears and frustration and doubt. I’m going to laugh at silly TV comedies and British chick lit and with my friends and their kids. I want the laughter to wrap around me like a house or a cloak, a carapace to protect me from the elements. I’m going to laugh at what the days to come might bring and at what is set before me. I’m going to hope that the future will hear me coming, and will start laughing with me. I’m going to trust that even when I laugh at the promises of God because it feels like nothing will ever change, it doesn’t make the promises less true. The wondrous comes anyway.