If I had to choose one word to sum up the year that was 2012 for me, it would most certainly be this one – overwhelming.
The use of this particular word here can actually be interpreted in more than one way. There is the context in which it can mean a positive feeling or action can so fill one’s heart that they can scarcely put into words the magnitude of it, and there is also the meaning which denotes a force so powerful that it overrides one’s coping mechanisms and renders them nearly helpless. I cannot recall another year like 2012 which stretched not only myself but seemingly all of humanity to both ends of the spectrum so fully.
Recession, school shootings, presidential elections, fiscal cliffs… Not that long ago, it seemed like those of us who made our homes in more rural areas of the country could view events such as these through a sort of prism, as if they somehow were real and yet somewhat irrelevant to the little corner of the world we lived in. For better or worse, those days are gone. Non-profits are seeing donations dip, armchair political pundits wage wars on Facebook, tax hikes loom, and, suddenly, not even the hallways of our local schools seem safe anymore.
Those larger issues have a way of upping the pressure on struggles closer to home. I cannot fathom what it must be like to be a parent of one of those poor children gunned down in Newtown, Connecticut, mainly because I’m not totally over the event myself. My youngest daughter was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia just a few days after the shooting, and even though she was never at death’s door herself, there was this sort of pallor that hung over us. Whether in the form of a child in the hospital or one murdered in cold blood, life had clearly shown itself to be unfair.
Clearly, though, we had just as much reason to be elated over our daughter getting to come home from the hospital as we did when she was born safe and healthy in October. This is where the equation becomes tricky. Even now, as I type this, I want to veer off in one of two directions – joyously recounting all of the positives and discounting the negatives or diving head-first into the depressive things which have seemed to stand ready to wreck on us on the rocks at any moment. An abundance of one is difficult enough to convey; to walk the line between the two sometimes seems nearly impossible.
As a result, I find myself sort of crawling into 2013. I’m tired, but I somehow find myself in an extremely busy period of life. I’m discouraged about a great many things, but I am constantly placed in positions where I need to serve as the encourager. I want to shrink back, but I feel the need to move forward. It’s enough to cause a full lock down, but that, too, is not an option.
So in 2013, I’ll be looking for a different type of word. Maybe something more along the lines of “balance” or “moderation” or basically something that doesn’t take things to such extremes. That doesn’t mean circumstances won’t bounce from one extreme to the other over the course of the year. It just means that I need to find some way to live in the middle and not be swept away by the current of every event. I’m praying and seeking guidance as to what that is.
Why am I saying all this? I haven’t written anything in a while, and that’s mainly because I’ve been so, well, overwhelmed. I want to be here more often. My hope for 2013 is I can be.
Happy New Year.