Saturday, December 31, 2016

Starting from the Bottom?

So 2016 is at an end in less than five hours. What a year it’s been. Like really, I don’t have a clue how else to put it. Starting out, I was so confident that it was going to be a good year, but less than one month in it quickly went south.
Depression hit worse than it had ever been since at least high school as early as the middle of January. February was very dark due to the depression. By the middle of March, my girlfriend dumped me because I was too depressed. April and May were a serious struggle to escape the depression. June was probably the most positive month. July initiated another set of bad luck: I started talking to a girl from a very controlling church who judged me hardcore along with the rest of her church for struggles Jesus was actively taking out of my life. August saw the end of that friendship and depression settle in yet again. By the end of September the depression was stronger than ever before. October saw my ex from the beginning of the year start dating my roommate—they are engaged now too—which meant, for all practical purposes, the end of a friendship (he’d been the first one I called when she broke up with me). November was when things started to improve (see two paragraphs from here), but the depression was always much too close. December saw me move from Bolivar, MO to Springfield, MO, and the stress of the move, with the holiday season and working full time, has been tough.
As for my goals for 2016, given the incredible amount of depression this year and working full-time all year, it was not as productive as I hoped. I did move to Missouri officially, I did find a good job—much better than expected actually—and I did keep up with this blog. However, while I started the year working out, by August I wasn’t working out at all; while I wrote a short story in January, I failed most of the rest of the year. My CD is still not finished. The fourth draft of Stranded has yet to be finished. My Romans 7 paper was organized, but I haven’t written a single word more of it since December of 2014. Oh, and given the break up in March, I not only was kept from pouring into that relationship, but I was estranged from a lot of other relationships.
However, at the same time, 2016 has not been a total waste. Given the fact that I now have a great job, I have also met a lot of awesome people. Between people I serve at work, and people I work with, my days are never exempt from time with people. Immediately before the breakup, I got to fellowship with the leadership of my home church in California at the 2016 Shepherd’s Conference. Of all of 2016, that was one of the three greatest highlights. The next one was in November when I got to celebrate my childhood best friend’s wedding celebration with him as his best man. Along with that, I got to spend a few days with my family (and my cats) that week. The third highlight was Thanksgiving. And sure, it was only one day, but I got to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in four years.
While I lost friends, I gained many more, some of whom I never would have met or invested in if my relationship with her hadn’t ended (like a guy I met tonight in Springfield at Starbucks as I wrote this). Also, I’m very excited for my best friend from SBU to return to the states in about a week. Finally, I got a cat today, so that’s fun. (I hope he’s a little more comfortable with the place by the time I get home this evening.)
With a year that has too easily been focused on the negatives, it’s much too easy to say, “There’s nowhere to go but up from here.” However, that thinking is so wrong. While the following verse got me through the depression this year, it is so much more valid than just as a “keep on going” verse: “The righteous one will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4b).
The truth is, I am not righteous because I keep going. I am not righteous by anything in myself. While the popular song, “we started from the bottom but now we’re here,” could be understood as describing where I’m starting in 2017, I cannot allow myself to take that attitude. Since I don’t make myself righteous, God has already set me in the heavens with Himself (cf. Ephesians 2:4-9). This needs to be my attitude going forward. I cannot allow myself to be defeated by regret or by fear. God loves me; God chose me; God is protecting and guiding me. All I must do is follow Him.
So 2017… Here’s my goals: follow Jesus so closely I am covered with Him.
Ultimately if I accomplish that I don’t care if I fail in every other area. But here’s some other things I’d like to accomplish:
·         Love God’s people well
·         Keep up on this blog
·         Finish Stranded—completely done
·         Finish my new CD
·         Finish another book (it’s a secret)
·         Write a short story every quarter (a month is too short)
·         Work out more regularly than I did this year
·         Follow God’s leading regarding the next chapter of my life (to stay in Missouri, or move home, or to take a different, third option)
But that’s where I’m at on the eve of 2017. God is good; He’s led me this far; He will continue to lead. I just need to follow and obey.

Soli Deo Gloria

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