I have had the worst year ever.
I don’t mean compared to other peoples’ years. I’m not so ignorant as to think that I have a particularly hard life when compared to so many others.
In my world, 2016 has been one heck-of-a roller coaster. But not like a smooth, theme-park-grade roller coaster. I’m talking about a faded, rusty, carnival worker-rigged-contraption that hasn’t been inspected in months and rides like a blind, spooked horse.
Yeah. I’m metaphorically sore after this year.
Here’s the thing—a lot of it is my fault.
(Insert heavy sigh.)
But…there were those situations where things were out of my control. Some unforeseen things. Some things that still sting. Some things that I can’t fully process.
(Ready to tell me to suck it up, yet? I sure am. Sheesh.)
I want to eat squirt cheese from a bottle and binge-watch Netflix for the next month. But I can’t. Why?
My house looks like the North Pole barfed on every wall. My kids are making their gift lists with rabid fury. And everyone sees so ABSURDLY HAPPY.
(Really, Hallmark Channel? A happy ending EVERY TIME?)
So. How do I deal with my hurt and disappointment and not be the total sopping wet blanket that I feel like being? How do I save Christmas for my family?!
I have a plan.
Step 1: Pull an Elsa.
That’s right. I got straight Disney-character-reference on you. But it’s important: LET IT GO.
Whatever hardship I’ve faced this year, mistakes I’ve made, hurt I’ve felt, I will give myself some grace, and let it go. If I live 2017 in 2016’s shadow, it’ll be a mere echo of what it could have been.
Now – this is way easier said than done. If you need to let it go, your process may involve lots of prayer and counseling.
Step 2: Is it too late now to say sorry?
(It felt like a natural progression to move from Elsa to Bieber.) One of the most powerful moments of 2016 was a week when the reality of my contribution to the downward spiral of events settled in. Never had I been more aware of myself. My shortcoming. My missteps. My screw-ups. It kinda felt like standing naked in the middle of Times Square.
I wanted to pack up my kids and drive to some far, far away destination beach and never speak to another human again. But then I remembered I hate sand in the bed and there’s the whole BANKROLLING MY PSYCHOTIC IMPULSE thing.
So I picked up my phone. I texted everyone I felt like I needed to and I apologized. In some cases, I didn’t necessarily feel that sorry, but I wanted to at least take ownership of my part.
This was the week I learned that “I love you” aren’t the most powerful words a person can say. “Please forgive me.” Man. Those’ll set you free.
Step 3: Don’t be stupid.
No pithy phrase or cultural reference quite sums up my point better. You’ve heard the definition of insanity—doing the same thing and expecting a different result? Yeah. I’ve been literally insane this year. In 2017, I plan to do something different.
Who I lean into for counsel, how I spend my time, where I show discipline, how much I let others’ opinions drive my emotional car—these are all areas where I can do something different.
Step 4: Find the Joy.
Christmas isn’t about me. (This came to a shock to me, as well!) Christmas isn’t about my kids or what they want for Christmas. Christmas is about joy. Joy in hope. Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ birth, means that I can hope for a better 2017 because I have a loving Father who sent His only Son because He knew I was going to be a total train wreck on my own.
I won’t let my attitude trump my heart.
Instead, I want to truly be grateful for all the things that went well this year. And I want to show my kids that even when things don’t go our way, joy can be found in every season … even the seasons you’d like to forget.