I realise that, in reality, the end of one year and the start of another one is an arbitrary line in the sand, but I still appreciate that line none the less. Sometimes we all need enforced moments that help us to both look back and look ahead with a sense of reflection and purpose.
Whether the year has been wonderful or terrible, taking time to reflect and refocus is an important and worthwhile activity. It’s all too easy to end up drifting through life and letting life happen to us. If we want to have at least some semblance of control over where we end up in life though, we have to keep proactively making good choices. And without intentional moments to pause, reflect and refocus, we simply won’t be able to make wise, healthy choices.
If I’m honest, 2013 is one year I’ll be glad to see the back of. I can’t remember a tougher year. Discovering that my four year old, Eloise, had a whole manner of health issues (culminating in heart surgery) has served to create a year filled much more anxiety than feels healthy. Spending so much time attending doctors appointments and seeing my little girl have surgery definitely didn’t make it onto my goals for 2013 a year ago. Add to those health worries the small matter of moving house, my wife, Rachel, going back to work again after maternity leave, Eloise starting school, both our girls having chicken pox, and it’s felt like a year with no let up.
I feel like 2013 has been somewhat of a surviving year. Every so often—though more frequently than we might like—things happen that are outside our control, and the best we can do is hang in there until we come out the other side. I spent quite a bit of time feeling disappointed I wasn’t making much progress either personally or with the organisations I’m involved with, but I came to see that, sometimes, surviving is the only option on the table.
That said, I so feel ready for a new, creative challenge going into 2014. I want to be stretched and see my creative juices released once more. While Eloise’s health issues have not disappeared, it would seem that we’re done with the surprises for now and the biggest concerns have been resolved. And just knowing that is starting to free up some head space to begin dreaming, imagining, and creating again.
I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve no doubt I’ve grown in very different ways in 2013 due to the challenges it brought, but I’m ready for a fresh start. And that’s why, perhaps more than ever, I’m especially grateful for the arbitrary line in the sand that is new year.
Not that it’s all been challenges this year. There have been plenty of wonderful moments too. Watching Imogen, now nineteen months, grow up has been a whole lot of fun, even if very tiring chasing her everywhere. We also had a fabulous two week break in Switzerland that came just at the right time. And seeing Eloise adapt to school so quickly—and throughly enjoy it—has been a delight to see.
With all that said, I’m feeling full of optimism and hope for next year. I’m so thankful for Rachel, my family, and my friends, all who continue to make my life so much richer and stronger. And my faith in God never fails to bring a true sense of perspective to both the highs and lows of life. The person of Jesus continues to both inspire and challenge me in equal measure—and I hope to follow his way of life ever more closely in 2014.
So, bring on 2014. Happy new year everyone!
(The picture at the top in many ways captures so much of this year in that one moment. It was so hard seeing Eloise having to have surgery, but she’s been a true warrior and kept smiling through everything she’s had to face.)