I never intended to do a sappy post so close to my return to blogging, especially because sharing the intimate details of my life via cyberspace isn’t really my jam. But, somehow, New Years came and, for the first time in my life, I became oddly reflective about the dying year. I don’t feel too badly about the sap though because I am fairly sure my readership count is hovering around two (Hi, Mom). It’s also a shame that 3% of sentimental goodbyes to 2014 don’t get shared on social media. I vow to be part of the 97%.
I’ve never been much into New Years, except for being thankful that it stretched out Christmas break to two weeks. I’m always much more jazzed about the beginning of the school year, probably because it gives me an excuse to buy new pencils (and because office supplies, as we know, are 90% of the reason I became a teacher). I’ve spent most of my New Years Eves at home with my family, struggling to stay conscious until midnight, but almost inevitably being awoken at 1 am by Maren telling me everyone was going to bed.
Looking back at 2014, however, was different. It was, by a landslide, the most difficult year of my life. Like, both-of-FDR’s-elections-type landslide. Whoever said that the mission is the hardest 2 years of a person’s life must have died on the plane ride home because it’s been a steep uphill climb for me.
2014 was a year of battles. Constant battles. Impossible battles. Custer’s Last Stand type battles. There were many times I was positive that there was no way I could make it through to the end. Times I didn’t want to make it to the end.
2014 was a year of loss. I lost so much of what I felt made me who I am. I lost things I’ve held onto my whole life. I lost things I fought so steadfastly to get.
I’d like to say that 2014 was a year of learning, but I’m not sure I can yet. I think a lot of the lessons to learn from it are still forthcoming, but I have learned one very important truth: God loves us for our intrinsic value as His children. His love is not based on what we can or can’t do. It is not based on what we think. It is not based on our strengths or our weaknesses, our abilities or inabilities. It doesn’t matter how small or fragile or mangled we feel we are. He loves us because we are His. He doesn’t need any other reason. There is nothing we could ever do to make that love fade. We don’t earn it. It’s not conditional. It’s not something we deserve or don’t deserve. It just is. And I am so grateful for that.
Recently, the clouds have begun to part, ever so slightly. As they have, I’ve been reminded of something that for so long seemed false: that change is possible, and it’s only possible through the Savior.
In my mind, change and hope are closely related. Hope isn’t being discontent with the present because you anticipate a brighter future, but rather a certainty, an unfaltering surety, that Christ will lift all burdens, heal all wounds, and make everything right. That no matter how dark and futile and unremitting the battles of today appear to be, there will be an end, there will be a change, there will be solace. And Christ is the only way.
So here’s to 2015. I’ll celebrate my 2-years-since-getting-back-from-the-mission anniversary. I’ll finally graduate college. I’ll know what life as a non-student is like for the first time since the Clinton’s first term. I’ll finish my first year of teaching hoards of 13 year olds. I’ll travel to countries I’ve never been to before. I’ll be as old as Elizabeth II was when she became queen of an entire country.
Happy New Year.