I hope you had a really wonderful Christmas. That’s a really polite and obligatory thing to say, but I sincerely hope that you did. Because the thing is, as I get older, I realize that Christmas is really hard. What Christmas is about – the celebration of the birth of our Savior – becomes more and more beautiful to me, but the sting of the holiday season has become more apparent. Christmas is hard if your mother isn’t around anymore. Christmas is hard if, like several wonderful friends of mine, someone in your family is very ill. Christmas is a mark of a sadness if you know it’s the last one you’ll spend with someone you love. Christmas stinks if your heart is broken, if you’re hundreds of miles away from your home, if your spouse is stationed overseas, if you’re financially unable to buy presents for your family and society is telling you you are a crappy parent if you don’t buy your children junk they don’t need. Christmas is hard. But Christmas represents the day grace was born into our world. The day our ultimate source of comfort and strength met us where we are at — literally. So if your Christmas was hard, I’m sorry that it was and I love you.
It’s New Years Eve and unlike Ben Gibbard, I feel very different. I think back to last New Years Eve and I am stunned at the difference a year makes. 365 days ago I was in downtown St. Pete having a few ciders, watching the fireworks, walking arm and arm down the street with a myriad of really wonderful friends and it was a truly fantastic night. Today, nothing is the same as it was on December 31, 2012. Romances started and ended, for myself and friends in the group, sometimes they ended badly and in hurtful ways, and sometimes so silently it surprised everyone. There were some serious location changes (hello, Memphis), there were lots and lots (and lots and lots) of growing pains, there were illnesses to cry and pray through, there were hard conversations, and really beautiful ones. When I think of all the changes I become overwhelmed. I don’t know how it all fit in a measly 365 days and I’m exhausted at the thought! My only source of stability and only peace of mind comes from God. I could very well lose my mind most days and bury myself under my covers watching Parenthood instead of facing real life (I do this quite a lot, actually..) but then I read God’s words in Isaiah 42:16 ;
16 And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things that I do, and I do not forsake them.
I’ve been blind this whole year. And I will be all of next year. And the odds aren’t looking great for 2015, either. Life is full of really hard surprises — the ground is often rough and uneven. Moments are dark, sometimes darker than you ever thought possible, and life is almost always an unclear path. And I can understand, in a way, why it’s suggested that christians dreamed up this concept of God to make themselves feel better. Because life is hard and it’s nice to put your hope in something even if it’s made up. Whatever to get you through the day. I mean sure, I do indeed feel better knowing that God is walking beside me, but it isn’t delusional. I couldn’t make up this kind of peace. I think my hope would feel a little hollow and foolish, and not big and bold and real and life changing if Christ didn’t actually live and die and rise again. God has changed everything in my life. In this last year alone He has changed more than, frankly, I asked Him too. But He has lead me the entire time, made my ground level, gone before me, turned my darkness into light – just like He said He would. He did not forsake any of His promises. And I can breathe going into 2014 knowing the same will be true for this year as well. And I pray that you know the same thing. Happy New Year, ya’ll.