It’s getting close to that time of year when we reflect on what we’ve experienced over the past twelve months and look forward to the next. I’m going to lay it out there. It’s been a rough year. I’ve kept most of it to myself for various reasons. For one, airing all of the intimate details of my life becomes less desirable the more of a life that I have. I’ve become much more deliberate in how I participate in social media and save a few slip-ups (ok, probably not slip-ups. Breaking habits is hard), have really scaled back on the number of posts intended to persuade my friends to see a particular issue in a specific light. For one, it doesn’t work. For another thing, it makes them hate you. I try to stick to humor and family photos/updates. It’s better to uplift.
Probably most importantly, I know that everybody has challenges and that mine pale in comparison to some. Every time I felt compelled to “vent” a bit, I was reminded that we have been blessed in many ways and that my complaints would do little but paint my own attitude in a negative light. Truly, I am thankful that we have not struggled with health issues this past year. Death has not come into the picture. We don’t have piles of hospital bills, and we have a steady, and growing income. None of our kids have “gone off the deep end” and full-out rebelled, run away, or threatened to harm themselves. After 15 years, my marriage continues to be amazing. In all, my family life is in very good shape. Maybe that’s because it’s had to be.
I actually started to write up some of the specific struggles from the past year in this space, but realized that I still don’t want to venture into that territory. Suffice it to say, some of the challenges are due to circumstances and some of them are due to choices we’ve made in reaction to those circumstances. They span the gamut of what we encounter every day: church, school for the kids, work, and even the house. Some of it may have to do with phase of life. Most weeks we’re so busy that we don’t even realize the weekend is coming up, and when it arrives, we’re so busy that we nearly miss it. Some of it (for me) is likely that I’m coming dangerously close to mid-life, and I’d be lying if I said I never reflect on whether I’ve made the right decisions along the way. Have I prioritized things correctly? I’ve never been really big on life goals. I’ve always been one to have faith that opportunities will be presented, and then had the guts to grab on to the appropriate ones. Was this the wrong approach? Would a more deliberate focus have resulted in a more well-balanced, better prioritized life?
It’s a weird place to be. I now have some work friends that are talking about retirement, and their timeline is actually shorter than the amount of time I’ve already spent in the workforce. The little boy that I couldn’t coax out of a play car at Toys R Us now has his eyes on actual cars, his license only a few short years away. That bright-eyed go-getter from the mirror now looks mostly tired and disheveled. I keep thinking that we should slow down and smell the flowers, yet the flowers continue to whiz buy in a blur of colors.
If I were to write an annual Christmas “catch-up” letter, it would look like this: switched churches, two of the four kids switched schools, I switched jobs, Sara got a job, and we stumbled through major home repairs. Not all of that happened in 2014, but the bulk of it did, and the rest was just prior to. Change is hard for most people. Change is even harder for those of us who are on the less adventurous side of things. Many potentially life-altering changes all at once can bring the stress level into uncharted territory. Bundle all of these with my current life phase and the feeling that I don’t have an outlet to vent and uncharted becomes stratospheric. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m moping around depressed all of the time. In fact, we’ve had some really good times this year, too. But the overarching theme of the year has been: pretty rough.