This wasn’t the year I planned.
This wasn’t how things were supposed to unfold.
This wasn’t in the script.
12 months ago, as I prepared to change the calendar, it was all there stretched out in front of me; the dreams, the hopes, the visions of what was ahead.
The possibility was palpable.
I’d planned and prepared and prayed as much as I could, and at the end of it all, I stood with great joy and expectancy, ready to walk confidently into the wide open, beautiful promise of the coming year.
As I did, I stepped into a stinky, steaming pile of surprise.
The work I’d planned on didn’t turn out to be the dream job I’d been assured it would be.
The people I expected to be my closest friends quickly became virtual strangers.
The money I’d counted on to keep my family comfortable suddenly evaporated.
And for a little while, I found myself lost and disoriented in disappointment and sadness, wondering where the path back to the dream year I’d planned was.
Soon it became clear: That dream is dead. That path has been paved over.
I had the choice of either dying along with that dream, getting paved over with that path, or I could keep dreaming and keep walking.
So I chose the latter.
I went back to the things that I knew before the year began; to the stuff that built the dream in the first place.
I dug deep to stoke the embers of my fragile faith. I endeavored to trust in the goodness of God regardless of the badness that seemed to be winning.
I clung tightly to the love of my family, and to the devoted friends who had persevered through time and distance.
I reached down into the jagged mess of crappy circumstances to excavate the voice that I’d lost along the way, and I started using it again.
I resolved to do what I’d always done before the calendar changed; to love people well, to speak with integrity, and to be who I felt comfortable being, regardless of the cost.
And little by little, I started seeing it; the new dream, the next path.
They’re both still unfolding, not quite perfectly clear, but I’m getting just enough of them, seeing just enough, knowing just enough, to keep going in 24 hour chunks.
And really, that’s all any of us can ask for; just enough of the dream and the path, enough hope, and encouragement, and promise to keep walking.
Maybe we’re not supposed to get much more.
And so now, on the brink of the New Year, I look back on the old year that wasn’t, and I am not disheartened any more, but grateful.
Though it gave me more grief and discouragement and failure than I’d have chosen for myself, I’ve come to see and feel and know things that my dream year never would have allowed.
I found a new compassion for the hurting.
I found a greater solidarity with the grieving.
I unearthed a deeper, more authentic faith in myself.
I gained a new appreciation for the love of those close.
I found a new respect for my own strength.
I felt the power of forgiving someone else, when they may not have deserved it.
I rediscovered the voice that only comes when you speak truth.
I found a peace that you only get when you use that voice well.
I learned to trust in a God who is bigger than circumstances.
As I reflect on the year that wasn’t, I celebrate that fact; realizing that maybe the year I’d wanted, wasn’t big enough, or important enough, or good enough for me.
So here, as I prepare once again to change the calendar, it is still all stretched out in front of me again; the dreams, the hopes, the visions of what is ahead.
The possibility is still palpable.
The only resolution I’m making as I move forward, is to hold that possibility loosely, and to trust fully in the better dream; the one that unfolds day by day.
You may have been surprised by the year that wasn’t, but be encouraged in that.
Happy New Year, friends.