I could easily write one of those traditional 'new year, new me' posts, because lets face it, we all start the new year with high hopes that things are going to be better than last year. That we'll be richer, fitter, nicer, tougher, bolder, more honest, loving, thoughtful, kind, generous... etc etc etc etc. As lovely and encouraging as it is to read things like that at this time of year, I doubt that anyone would read it thinking, 'ooo this girl is really onto something here!', but rather 'how lovely, now what am I going to have for dinner?' and then forget you ever endured five minutes of your life reading my drivel. So let's see if I can come up with something a little more thought-provoking, eh?
Over the years, I've noticed that unfortunately, New Year's Eve is something that has become a bit of an anticlimax for most. You get absolutely trollied with your mates, then wait for midnight, anticipating some profound realignment of your soul or some great epiphany that will change your life and as the second hand ticks over midnight... absolutely NOTHING happens. No divine revelation or spiritual intervention, just another day with your mates like any other. So we eventually crawl home, tired or/and heavily intoxicated, slightly disappointed but knowing that really, it's a little bit silly to get down about it because this is what happens every year, right? Some of us will make a good go at our resolutions for the first week or so; some maybe even for a prolonged period of time. However eventually we begin to realise that going to the gym three times a week wasn't exactly that ground-breaking alteration in our lives that we were hoping for and life for the most part, just continues as before.
Year after year I've found myself thinking, 'There's got to be more to life than this'.
Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe you're crazy. Maybe we're crazy. Probably... But seriously, am I really the only one? I've spent my past few new year's parties either in tears over a row with a friend or surrounded by the people I love but feeling no more special than I do on any other day of the year. I've hugged, sobbed, drank and kissed my way through to the new year and all with the same outcome - a few pictures from a fun party and one or two anecdotal stories to tell.
Now I'm not knocking parties (although I'm not one for crowds myself) or expectation that things can be better. Especially not the latter. As a follower of Jesus, expecting things to get better is kinda a big deal for me. But we cannot just sit around expecting things to improve in our lives and do nothing about it, believer or otherwise. 'Well duh Emily, that's where New Year's Resolutions come in!', hear you cry. Well clever clogs, whilst I believe that resolutions have their value and are not necessarily a bad thing (I have a couple myself), I'd like to suggest that perhaps they aren't actually the most productive thing for instigating the change we are longing for. Just bear with me.
For the first time in my memory, I had one of those profound moments that we all long for as the clock struck midnight. I actually spent New Year's Eve in a church, where I was involved in helping out/annoying the tech guys at an event called Shift. Throughout the night there had been lots of singing and praying and preaching about inciting hope and revival within our generation, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed and consider incredibly relevant for both New Year's Eve and the state that the world is currently in. However it wasn't the call for a revolution of love (which I LONG to see in our world) or the beautifully moving announcements of my peer's hopes and dreams for the year to come, that sent the resident butterflies in my stomach into a quiet frenzy, after so many months of slumber. After I'd hugged and kissed those around me, I was so overwhelmed I had to take a few minutes out for myself and hold back the tears. I was so happy I felt like my heart was going to explode, and I thought I'd better calm myself down before inflicting the doubtless lack of respect for other's personal space that I tend to inherit when I get a bit giddy.
To say it's been a difficult year would be an understatement. I've had all the usual heartbreaks, broken trust and misgivings that a usual year brings, along with some extra dollops of severe illness and self loathing, with a side dish of multiple hospital trips with people I love and topped off with the death of the most inspirational, Jesus-like human being I believe ever walked this earth, my Grandad. It's fair to say I've had more low points than high and to be perfectly honest there were points when I doubted I'd still be around by the time the new year arrived.
As I looked around the room, I realised the longest time I'd actually known someone was just over two months, and the majority much, much less than that. In fact, two of the guys, Nat and Simran, I'd met just the day before and already felt incredibly lucky to have shared the new year with them and to be able to call them 'friend'. I'd spent the majority of the night with two very good friends, Gordon and Joe, both of whom I love like brothers despite only knowing each other for a short time. I sat there, allowing my gaze to wander around all these amazing people, digesting everything that I had overcome in 2013. Because, despite everything that had happened, all the hurt and struggle and pain, I'd made it. I'd lived to see the new year and what's more, it was so worth it. Had I checked out early, had I given up, I'd never have met a single soul that I shared that church with. I'd have missed out on some serious love and amazing memories. And even if Gnarls Barkley is right, if I really am a little bit loopy, I really think that proves that there is more to life than we let ourselves see.
My profound moment wasn't life changing in that physical elements in my life have changed, like my bank balance or waistline, it was more a realisation that new year shouldn't be a time when we mull over everything we've messed up over the past 365 days and figure out how to correct the errors, but to celebrate everything that we've been through, both the good and bad. For a while I've been referring to last year as 'the worst year of my life', but perhaps a more apt name would be 'the toughest year of my life'. Even the difficult things teach us something, to value the good times more or how to deal with a future troubles. No matter what your background or belief, we all have one thing in common. We all made it. Yes we made mistakes and it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies, but we've come out on top because WE MADE IT.
So rather than just nit-picking the things you did wrong over the past 12 months in order to form some impressive-sounding resolutions to share with your friends, I would encourage you to look at everything you did right and continue to build on that. 2014 is our year, 2013 was our year and 2015 may well be our year too. From now on I intend to appreciate the good, the bad and the ugly for what they are - a vessel that has got me where I am today, and I won't even try to express in words just how grateful and thankful I am for that.
As part of my 'building on the good' promise to myself, for the next month I'll be taking part in the 'My 500 Words' Challenge. 500 words, every day, for a month. That's a LOT of rambling.