On January 1, 2015, I posted this on Facebook:
And just like that 2015 is here with all its glory and pain and love and potential.
And there was so much of that – all of that. 2015 was a good year. Don’t read easy when all I said was good. It wasn’t easy. There were lessons and tears, but also laughing until I cried. There were long conversations and big celebrations (I mean, we actually pulled off a surprise party this year!). Engagements and weddings and funerals. Beginnings and endings. “What am I supposed to do? Why did that have to happen?” and “Ohmygosh, I’m so glad that happened!”
Toward the end of the year, Facebook starts pushing their Year in Review on your news feed and over the last few days #2015bestnine is making the rounds on Instagram. I don’t know how Facebook chooses from all of the things you posted throughout year, maybe it's the posts that received the most likes, but looking through mine made me smile. There was a picture from a birthday party, and a wedding in Colorado. There was one of my tiny new nephew and another of me and my friends at a lake last summer. It’s fun to look through your year and remember that thing you did in February that you had all but forgotten – like I went snowboarding in Breckenridge, but wait, was that really this year because it feels like forever ago. Time has a way of doing that – speeding by and suddenly those things you were looking forward to for so long, talking about, planning, praying about or crying about are just months-old memories and a couple of photos to make you feel nostalgic later.
Something you can do with that Year in Review is share it on your timeline. Don’t get me wrong, I love this idea. But it has the potential to force comparison and sadness when you watch your friends’ highlight reel – all of their glory moments from 2015. Like it’s one thing to see those moments posted one at a time throughout the year – that vacation in Mexico, that family dinner out, that new thing they bought – but when it’s all of those things in one long succession like, “Hey, can you please enjoy this with me all over again and remember all the great things I did this year because they were pretty great, right?” Of course it’s pulling all the great things, the reasons we celebrated and laughed and had a good time because those are the things we post on Facebook in the first place. We share our joys on social media, as we should. Celebrations and joy are best when shared. I love it when people find something they’re passionate about, something that brings them joy, and you see that light in their eyes. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing – seeing the thing that lights someone up?
But, you know what doesn’t get put up there on Facebook – the things your Year in Review doesn’t contain? The days that you cried in your car on the way home. The days you were disappointed and hurt. The days you felt worthless and forgotten. The day you found out you were sick. The day you received the rejection letter in the mail or the day you ended that relationship. This isn’t a post about the pitfalls of social media, but it is a reminder that while it might show our glory and love, it doesn’t always show our pain. And often our pain points are where we spend the most time learning and growing and becoming throughout the year. So, when I say my year was good, don’t just think of my highlight reel and think it’s all perfect. Because I didn’t post the day I cried about not getting the teaching job I thought I wanted. Or the day I got in a fight with my sister and the phone call and apology that followed.
All that to say, I do love a good Year in Review reminder. I love to look back through my journals on this date last year – two, five, seven years ago – to see where my heart was, what was filling my head and taking up my time. I’m not trying to live in the past, but I think it’s good to know where you were so you can decide where you want to go because in just one more day 2015 will be over forever as time screams ever forward. Soon it will be the stuff we read about as history. The year I _______. The year when _______. Looking back on the year, I think the truest thing I can say about it is that I have been given much. I have socks on my feet and Jesus in my heart and I am grateful.
Looking ahead to 2016, I don’t know what it will contain. I don't know what to expect in this new set of days. Some people already know – they’re having a baby or they’re getting married or they’re starting a new job. Maybe they’re going on an adventure. I know of one or two things 2016 holds for me, but aside from that, it’s wide open. It contains so much potential, and isn’t that exciting and also maybe kind of scary? Where might you be led in the next 365 days? Who are you going to meet and where will those meetings lead you? What if 2016 is a year all your dreams come true? Or what if everything crashes around you? What if there’s more pain than glory? Oh, but what if there’s more love than you could have ever imagined?
For the last couple of years, I have picked a new word to focus on for the year. Last year my word was kindness. I put the word on the home screen of my phone so that I would see it every single day. The goal was to be marked with kindness above everything else. Since the world can be so heavy and cynical, I wanted to only add to it in ways that were kind and gentle. While I still want those things for 2016, my word for this year is abide. It means to stick to, stand by, keep to. To remain. I have a lot of thoughts on the whole idea of staying, but that’s for another time. In 2016 I want to abide - in love, in friendships/relationships, in God. I want to be humble – always recognizing that we’re all still in progress and we have not yet arrived. I want to be present. Set boundaries. Learn to be slow and listen. I want to focus on and celebrate other people’s strengths rather than become an expert in their weaknesses. I want to be grateful and thankful and savor the important things. I don’t want to do anything that I would be ashamed of doing if it were my last hour – that’s a quote by someone. I can’t claim it, but I want to live it. Cram it into the corners of my heart. Let go of that last 10% of my life that I’ve been hanging on to and not allowing God to touch. In this next year, what I want the most is to keep looking for ways to give it away – all of it – my time, talents, treasure, love. And even if the pain outweighs the glory in 2016, I want to be able to come to this day a year from now and say that it was good.