I was thinking about what to write this week. I’ve been reading so many end-of-the-year recaps and hopes for 2017, and I didn’t want to do that because everyone else is doing a fine job at it, you know? Most have come to the conclusion that “2016 can totally suck it” and we’re moving on to 2017, eyes forward with hope, happy to leave 2016 behind. Good riddance, right?
I get it. I cried rivers when my dad had a stroke. I lit candles for the sorrow and violence in our country and world. I felt completely at a loss at the bloodshed. I struggled with judgments and privilege. I watched as my country voted for hatred, exclusion, and bigotry. And I wrestled with God’s role in all of it.
I don’t like the direction it seems our world is heading. It makes me fearful and hesitant and angry and sad. There were moments this year that I didn’t want to keep going. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to hear the news or face the world. Life is so very hard.
But somehow I am going forward with hope. I think the good things — because there definitely were some good things in 2016, too — have encouraged me enough to look ahead with some anticipation. I rolled with lots of good changes this year. I kept reading wise words from my favorite writers. I slowed down and took time to do nothing so I could rest and refresh myself. I took small steps toward justice. I hosted parties with my husband. We sat in silence to honor the Sabbath on our vacation. We made tomato sauce from scratch and celebrated our anniversary. I voted for a woman I believe in and watched her make history. I celebrated with my husband as he started his new job. And I made room during the holidays for light and holiness and mercy.
This year has been full of as many beautiful moments as terrible ones. I witnessed them both. I saw heartache and violence, natural disasters and terrorism, bigotry from those who are supposed to lead, and hatred from those who are following. But I also saw love and compassion, rescue and support, leaders stepping out to do good work, and barriers broken down. I’m taking all the bad and using it to remind myself that there is work to do in 2017. I’m taking all the good and using it to remind myself that the work is worth doing.
So I’m ready to make space again this year. I’m ready to make space in my mind and my life to move ahead. I’m ready to decide what stays and what needs to go. I’m making goals and plans and I can’t wait to start a new project on this blog in 2017 (I’ll be announcing it next week).
I wasn’t going to write a recap of the year, but there I went and did it anyway. Almost everyone I’ve talked to is ready for 2016 to end and to start anew in 2017, with fresh goals and a clean slate. I’m with you. But there also things from 2016 that I’m taking with me into the next year, like time with my family, travels with my husband, and sitting outside with my two best friends around a campfire we aren’t allowed to light. I’m taking with me cuddles with my cat and laughs with my coworkers, new house projects and a year’s worth of knowledge in communication and media. I’m taking with me justice and grace and faith, no matter how little of it I have. You can do it, too — find some things to take with you into the new year.
We get another chance every year to make this world a little bit better. Really, we get that chance every moment, but on January 1 it’s a little more apparent. Let’s do it. Let’s do the work. Let’s make the world a little bit better this year. Let’s seek the right way forward, follow the wisdom given to us, and love louder and wider than we ever have before. Amen.