Today is the last Sunday of 2014.
In typical fashion, I am sitting here mulling over the last twelve months, thinking about what I want to tell you. And how I want to tell it. The summation of the year means a great deal to me. As a stories go, it's important to connect the dots and create path and vision for the upcoming year. Part of me believes it's a shame I put so much stock in the new year holiday. But I like clean starting points, I suppose. It's the only way I know to move forward -- to create a foundation out of the old, to use it as a ladder.
I am encouraged tonight by my Kentucky-girl-turned-City-girl, dear friend Miranda who came to visit me today. Her quiet year in the City just tied up nicely with an engagement ring and a foreshadowing of a busy and magical (and stressful) 2015. She and I stood in my kitchen and talked for a while today about resting seasons and harvest seasons. About communities who died and the friendships, which survived. About abiding and pendulums and listening. About the resting we have to do before we can be productive. The abiding we have to do before we can engage.
Perhaps a year shouldn't be measured up by its Major Live Events, which occur within a twelve month span of time. This may be my first error. From January 1 to December... whatever today is... only a few significant things happened. Not enough to constitute a "big year", not enough to get overwhelmingly excited about.
I changed jobs. Twice.
I quit my safety-net job where I learned how to argue and speak up and advocate. The job, which allowed me time and space to change my body. I quit and I took a leap of faith in May and landed in a nightmare of a working situation. Consequently, I learned stepping stones are wonderful tools used by God to strengthen our faith; unfortunately, I am still rectifying the damage the state job did to my body. Still reconciling my body with some long term solutions. I've been working out at home since then and have opened the door to a world of holistic healing, natural remedies, and the healing power (or poison) of food. But it's been a slow journey and healing has taken its time coming. The journey includes a lot of error, juicing, chiropractic medicine, and a pull up bar in my bathroom threshold.
Judah learned to swim this summer. We visited the children's museum, the aquarium, and celebrated his second birthday. In the spring we got a family pet, who Judah named JoJo. She has too much energy and wouldn't hurt a flea. But she makes us feel safe and Judah helps me take care of her every day. She's taught him some two-year-old responsibility and how to be gentle. Right now she's snoring at my feet.
I changed jobs again in August, this time accepting an opportunity dripping with evidence of God's provision. The hospital job has been my Next Right Move and I have settled in for a while here, learning every day about the medical world and ironically, about geriatric care. We end up in weird places sometimes. And I've learned to talk loud without yelling and when to just keep holding someone's hand.
Rachel got married. It was the longest of hard years for my best, but we celebrated her as many times as possible; celebrating the privilege it is to do life together. And we drank a little and danced a lot and I slept in a bed with a stranger named Bear.
Brigid had a wedding. I didn't get to go but I have watched from as close as I can get while God writes a new story with her life. So many promises being fulfilled. This year has been a lot of missing her.
Labor Day weekend, after a warm summer rain shower, I wrecked our car. We hit a wall, in every sense of the word, and if I had ever questioned my protective capacity I no longer do. This inciting incident rattled my mother-heart and I walked away with bruises and sore hips and Judah left unscathed. I replaced the car and worked extra hard to secure the new car seat in the backseat. Marveling, quietly, at how He continues to protect us.
I went on dates. Does that surprise you? So many dead end dates and phone numbers and fruitless everythings. It's taking a lot of gall for me to dig back to last January and remember, recall the fiery throes of Online Dating and the rejection and the oddity of attraction. Companionship, the desire for it, makes us weird. I met men online. I met men in the bars. I met men at work. I met men at the gym. (I met a lot of men at the gym. I don't think it's a coincidence the place I was most comfortable and the most confident was the place I attracted the most attention.) But all were dead ends. For so many different reasons. I won't go so far as to say all men are the same, because they are not. But for those who've questioned my methods, I'll say firmly: all men are capable of being the same. And I'm ending the year in the same relational space as I ended 2013. Kind of.
I learned a vital, necessary lesson late in 2014.
About the kind of man I want in our life. About qualities, over the years, I had forgotten about or disregarded as no longer important. Recently I allowed my eyes to be opened again to characteristics and qualities I desire in a man, but had felt I no longer deserved. False hope, in all it's spite, kept me from opening my heart to the possibility of a man with depth of character. With an artist's heart. With exceptional intelligence. I still believe he's out there, and I have a better idea of what he looks like now.
I've struggled the last few days with feeling as though this year had been wasted. I came into 2014 thinking the resting season was over. Thinking big things were around the corner, thinking change was coming.
But the abiding season wasn't over. Fruit, harvest, wasn't to be had this year. Not in the fulfilling sense. But what gives me hope is I am not who I was. I resonate strongly with Viktor Frankl's words tonight: "When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves."
If I am honest with myself, there were some key moves made this year, but even more internal change. A moving around of parts. A strategic set up for a comeback, if you will. 2014 will not be measured by Major Life Events, but by Adjustments.
The day to day challenges of life in this household are enough to change us. How to budget, how to parent, how to provide, how to protect. When to shut doors, where to draw lines, when to stand up and fight and when to pick over a battle. The daily growth and love and adventure, which happens on a daily basis cannot be discredited.
So as the year wraps up, there's so much I want to leave behind. There's so much I want to lay to rest here. But what we will focus on is what is ahead. Because, at the risk of jinxing it, I believe what's coming is great. Great in the: great, transformative, plot changing, great-soundtrack-scene in the movie kind of great.
And one of the Adjustments, one of the lessons I have learned in these two years of resting and preparing, is resolutions are not to be made. We don't make promises around here. But we do set goals. I set goals. Viktor Frankl also said, "Even when it is not fully attained, we become better by striving for a higher goal". We aim, set a goal or a target, to determine our trajectory.
Vague is safe because it creates room for error and makes accountability difficult. Vague also leaves room for interpretation, leaves room for creative license. The target is vague, for this very reason. The target is also vague because as I sit here sharing with you, I realize for the first time in many years I don't know what comes next. I haven't a single clue.
So this year I am making no promises.
I am setting targets, making declarations, instead.
Goodbye 2014 and all your heartache and passivity. Goodbye to the pain you caused and may you keep with you the people who don't belong in my world anymore. With you I leave an old voice, old insecurities, old beliefs about myself. From you I take memories of my sweet Judah, but little else.
And in the coming year, I will aim to:
Not give up easily
Pay off debt
Be Ok with Good Enough
Rebuild my body
Take no shit
I will do better, as I always declare I will.