Wednesday, 30 December 2015

So long, 2015

2015 was going to be a Big Year. I planned to sort myself out, 'get my sh*t together'. I revelled in the fresh white page of a new year. I would face the monsters and overcome. 

That resolve lasted precisely 3 days before the aforementioned monsters woke up and smacked me full in the face.

I trudged through January and then February, waiting for the downpour to let up. Little hopes deflated and were washed away by the rain. 

And yet!...

[NB. This is not some Disney story with a neat ending 1 hour 30 minutes in. We're all normal broken humans with good days and bad days, areas of growth and stubborn habits we can't break. I also believe we're all in a daily process of change. So no, I'm not 'sorted' (neither are you... Even if you think you are :P) But it's encouraging to recognise progress!]

And Yet, 'OCD' is not the big label hanging over my 2015. Things got pretty bleak and it felt too hard. But it got better - as it always seems to do, despite my expectations - and there were many pleasant times. Dinners with friends, laughs with my housemate, weddings and dresses and first dates. The guys who came to hang out on Friday night even though they knew I felt sucky and would be bad company. Birthdays at the zoo (yes, the zoo), punting in Cambridge. Driving through Spanish valleys in glorious sunshine with a minibus of friends, blaring out Mumford & Sons. Actually feeling grateful for this life. 

2015 didn't go at all as I had planned. I didn't get the job I wanted; didn't maintain the relationship I started; left a hundred things undone and messages not replied to. But (and I'm not just saying this because it's the end of the blog and don't you love some sense of resolution?), it was many other things that I'd never expected. Despite the bits I just don't understand, I can see glimmers all through the year of the Father who knows me, giving me better dreams than the ones I'd set out on. No, I'm not some 'fixed' adult. But I hope I'm more real and more true: with more fight in me and a whole lot more dependence on my sustainer. Less fussed about a five-year plan and more content with being where I am right now, secure with the one who's in it for the long-haul. 

I hope this is an awesome year for you! I hope it's full of breakthrough moments and steady ascents. Be courageous to do things your own way. 
Recognise when the loudest negative voice is your own, and seek help joyfully, knowing that we were never intended for independence but for mutual support. In everything, run toward and not away from the one who created you and calls you by name. 

And if it's not such a good year for you - if you get to January 29th and you're So Over 2016 - please keep going. It can get better. Yes it's a giant cliche but maybe Florence (or whoever first said it) was actually right. It is always darkest before the dawn. I don't know what stuff you're facing in 2016, but I do know there are beautiful things to be grasped. 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Ho ho holy moly it's Christmas!

As ever, I am loving this Christmas period. I have been avoiding Mariah's All I Want For Christmas (is to cut off my ears so I never have to hear this song) wherever possible, taking advantage of my 'mince pies for breakfast' rule and am looking forward to a rest in the middle of nowhere with my family.

The unseasonal rainy weather, the striking emptiness of Shakin' Steven's terrible song and the atmosphere in the M&S food hall 48 hours before the big day, all amplify how hollow this season can become. We are expected to listen to crappy 80s Christmas tunes, drunkenly get with a lesser-known colleague and nurse a hangover through the queen's speech at an awkward family get together. 
"Because it's Christmas". 

What does that even mean?!?!

And for those who struggle, we are for some reason expected to slap on a smile and enjoy ourselves, "because it's Christmas", full in the knowledge that tomorrow it will be over and we will be faced with the brutal reality of normal life. 

So here's my take on it. We should point people to the 'real reason for Christmas'. Not because I Guess We Ought To, but because the real reason for Christmas is the only thing that stops this holiday being at best a period of anticlimactic escapism and at worst a brutal reminder of all that is lost or still to be or not quite right. 

Okay so I recognise that thus far, this is mega depressing. Apologies for that. Ho ho ho and all that. 


But, the fact is that the 'real reason for Christmas' is more beautiful, more healing, more mind-blowing that any amount of lights or presents or cheeky smooches under mistletoe. 

But, the only thing that could actually save us from such overwhelming despair came into our brokenness and flooded us with light. 

But, we have this hope that even in great darkness, death will not have the final say. 

But, even when I am forced to take down the decorations and face the bleak, Christmas-less midwinter of January, there is a hope that shines no less brightly for not being covered in tinsel. 

Happy Christmas y'all, hope it's a great one. 

And if it's not, hope you're encouraged that the light celebrated at Christmas shines into our futures and all that we face.

NB: A guy called Glen Scrivener has written on this topic an awful lot better than me. Check out his blog here.