2018 was a rough year and I’m not just talking about the socio-political landscape.

Personally, it has kicked my butt! I honestly can’t remember another time when I have looked forward to the clock rolling forward into January with this much anticipation. Obviously writing a different date won’t automatically fix one’s problems but there is something about a “clean slate” that feels so appealing: “yeah but that was a problem that happened last year…”

I guess I’m just ready to have a lot of aspects of 2018 behind me:

  • I’ve put on 40+ pounds of weight this year and this is 100% to do with stress and anxiety – I eat when I feel out of control and in 2018 I definitely felt out of control.
  • My sleep has been fitful, partly to do with having more heartburn thanks to the weight gain, but also just because I’m the father of a 2 year old who views sleep as her mortal enemy.
  • I’ve lost friends.
  • I’ve become more bitter due to negative interpersonal interactions.
  • I’ve had my internal compass flipped.
  • I’ve doubted my purpose.
  • I’ve cried in the vet’s office, not knowing if I would have to put my dog down or not.
  • I’ve accumulated substantial debt.
  • I’ve had my faith rocked and tested.
  • I’ve nearly lost my wife and son on the operating table.

 

However, a lot of good has gone along with the butt kicking (sometimes quite literally):

  • I became the father to a beautiful, healthy baby boy.
  • I’ve watched my daughter learn and grow and start to flex out her personality which is remarkably like mine.
  • I’ve learned new skills such as how to replace a roof on a house.
  • I’ve pressed on in my graduate studies, achieving a nearly perfect score on more than one difficult assignment.
  • I’ve discovered new hobbies such as learning how to use a 3D printer with which I have brought more than one beautiful display piece to life from spools of simple plastic.
  • I’ve felt the hand of God prop me up when I was alone in that small room in the hospital, facing down the prospects of never meeting my son and losing my wife and best friend.

 

Let me be clear: recognizing these good things won’t change the fact that I have still put on a huge amount of weight thanks to my apparent inability to properly handle stress and anxiety. These good things do not change the fact that I am still struggling daily with not valuing other people’s opinions of me more than my own. These good things do not change the fact that my faith feels, in the words of Caedmon’s Call, like shifting sand.

Conversely, the bad things don’t change the fact that I know deep down that I can count on Jesus loving me even when I doubt his presence. The bad things do not change the fact that “friends come and go but family is forever”. And the bad things do not change the fact that every tomorrow is a new day even if it isn’t always a new year.

The arrival of 2019 won’t automatically change the bad things I have struggled with into good things (that’s not how life works). Tonight’s change in the calendar, however, can be useful in reminding myself that the one thing I can count on in 2019 more than anything else is God’s love for me. If I can consistently remember that, it will have strong, positive impact on my new year.