Lots of people have been posting on Facebook or Twitter about how they are looking back on 2013 and looking forward to 2014. Some have expressed overwhelming gratitude over the events of 2013—engagements, weddings, new babies born, promotions at work, etc.
And of course, some people have expressed relief over the possibility of a new year with new patterns and opportunities. Some people were relieved to take down their 2013 calendar because the year was hard, and they need something different to happen this year.
Personally, for my family and me 2013 was one of the most difficult years yet. I transitioned out of a job that I loved. My wife and kids were without a church for the first time ever. We were alienated from people we had once felt close to. I struggled very deeply with my own beliefs, calling, and purpose in this world (I plan to write more about that struggle later this year). And, to wrap it all up, my wife’s car was broken into.
With that said, I don’t want to neglect the amazing gifts and blessings we received in 2013. We made several new friends and, during those difficult times that I mentioned before, those friends were sometimes the only thing keeping us from going insane. I met and even had a brief conversation with one of my personal heroes (Rob Bell, if you must know). We bought a new car (the same one that was later broken into).
And the highlight of my year was the most unlikely event of all: Back in November, we held a worship event in an airplane hangar. We called it The Collective. We didn’t really know what would come out of it or even if anyone would show up. Thankfully, people did show up—many more than I could have ever hoped for. That one night gave me a new hope that I never expected. It felt like resurrection. For all of the pain and struggle and doubt I had been feeling, that night put me back on my feet again.
So am I glad to see 2013 behind me? Yes, I am.
Am I grateful for the lessons that I learned in 2013? Absolutely.
2013 may have left me with a bit of a limp, but my faith and my hope have never been stronger. My family has been through crisis, and we have lived to fight another day. My friendships are stronger, and I have learned to be grateful for the people in my life—those I have known for years and those I have only met in the past twelve months.
No matter how it all turns out, I know that 2014 will change my life forever. It can’t be avoided. We are starting a new church, and we are preparing for experiences that we have never had before.
So happy 2014, everyone. May this year be a time of close family, strong friendships, and new experiences.
May you spend the next twelve months learning to be a person of faith, hope, and love.
May you encounter God and life and reality in ways that open you up and bless you.
Grace and peace be with you in 2014.