A Long December (And There’s Reason to Believe.)

hope-in-the-darknessIt’s been a shitty day, a shitty week… Hell, it’s been a shitty year,” a friend shared with me recently.
“I’m just ready for a new year, a fresh start,” a patient solemnly disclosed to me.

Isn’t it easy to relate to heartache, the mess and stress and disarray, a million photographs shredded into one thousand pieces across the floor, when you’re going through something hard yourself? And not-so-easy to relate when things in our lives are going well, almost as if you’re afraid to listen to the pain as though you could catch it, like a cold? These confessions of others’ shitty years took me back to 2011, the year I couldn’t wait to let go of. As December of that particular year neared, I took solace in “A Long December,” replaying the song over and over again in my car, especially to sing the line, “And there’s reason to believe, maybe this year will be better than the last.” The green light would usually fade from green to red as I sang this line, as if to affirm the fact that things really were as shitty as I thought they were. Then I would bang my hands on the steering wheel as though I were a drummer and let my voice echo along with Counting Crows’ melodic choirs of, “nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah nah, na na na naaa”‘s. It was in those moments that all of my drive to make 2012 be better than 2011 would kick in high gear. I vowed to myself that I would do everything in my power to do the opposite of everything that had gone wrong. I would think more positively. I would move. I would make new friends. I would travel. I would make 12 Goals for 2012 and stick to them if it killed me. ‘Cause damn it, there was no way I was going through another 2011 again.

And so, this post isn’t for those who had the best year of their lives, though it can be, and I’m so glad you’ve had such a beautiful year. If it’s any condolence, my past two years have not only redeemed the awful parts of 2011, but have left me believing that perhaps it’s true, God really can “restore the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). This post is for those who notice the crowd singing the carols, and you’re wondering if you should just go home because all of this holly-jolly is making you sick. For those who question if there’s room for them at the table, the one that’s filled with smiling people clinking bubbly glasses to go along with their bubbly conversations. Who don’t want to become a Scrooge, but certainly understand why someone might want to say, “bah humbug.”

Your time is coming.
Can you feel it?
That little bit of light in your eyes as you notice this year’s calendar is wearing thin and next year’s is un-flipped through, drenched in possibility.
It’s ok.
It’s ok to be grateful for the gift of being alive while also readying your heart for something bigger.
Because you’ve got it in you.
Your redemption song is waiting to be sung.
Your story isn’t over.
In fact, you… you are remembering, remembering how the story ends. Justice restored, peace out of chaos, beauty from pain.
Isn’t that part of the message of this season, too, after all? That hope and new birth and a better story are for all of us to experience?

So, if you’ve made it this far, I implore you. Hang in there for one more round of “Deck the Halls.” Pour yourself a glass, and raise it high- to freedom, redemption, to something bigger and better coming your way… It’s been long, and hard, and you’ve made it this far.
Your bitter-est memories will soon melt like the wax dripping from Christmas candles. 
This mess will intersect with beauty and when you watch the two kiss each other, all of it will be worth it, somehow.
Hang on.
Steady your hope. 

There’s still reason to believe.

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