Here we are on the verge of a new year. It feels like only yesterday that we were looking with hope into 2017, wondering what it would hold. It’s been a year of worrying headlines, political blunders, and humanitarian disasters. But also filled with stories of light triumphing over darkness, and human kindness prevailing over terror and violence. It’s been a year where there have been many triggers for conversations about mental illness and suicide, more perhaps than any other year. As such, I hope we can carry a little less stigma with us into 2018. But as I’ve read of each celebrity who has lost their battle with suicide, it strikes me how much further we have to go and to wonder if we ever truly get to leave our demons behind.
For me, it’s felt like the world’s been flying past me ever faster this year. Or maybe I’ve been moving in slow motion. It turns out that being exhausted in 2017 is much the same as being exhausted in 2016. The progress and recovery I’d hoped for has yet to come to fruition. At times this has been a source of great frustration and conflict within me. There have been times when I have doubted God’s purpose in my life and wrestled with what the future could hold. And it has been a year characterised by a sense of grief. Grieving for the life I hoped to have by now, the limitations I wanted to be without, the energy that eludes me.
There have been many occasions where I have felt left behind this year. Very little has changed for me in twelve months. I had hoped to have bought a house this year, but my attempts so far have been unsuccessful. Around me, people are moving on to get married or have babies and I’m as single as ever. Sometimes that’s been an incredible blessing, being able to sit back and watch the joys and triumphs of my friends. To celebrate and watch them flourish and go down exciting new paths. And other times it’s been painful, watching others speed past me, wondering if I can ever catch up. Not always sure exactly what I’m catching up to.
I think it’s a sorrow we all share at one time or another, that sense of loss and fear that our lives are not where they should be. Sometimes it’s from dissatisfaction at the speed our life is going, compared to those around us. Other times it’s from looking back and seeing those we’ve left behind along the journey. We feel the holes left behind in our lives, without knowing what we will fill them with.
We miss the friends who were only in our lives for a season. We long for those loved ones who were taken from us too soon. We reminisce about the ones who got away. Our memories and dreams are littered with faces we haven’t seen in years, voices that used to be so familiar, and are now just out of reach.
And as we travel through life, we leave parts of ourselves behind. The carefree children we once were, when the world was big and full of possibilities. The dreams we let float away peacefully or watched break apart in our hands. The quirks and eccentricities of our character that we discarded as we grew older. Those pieces of our hearts that we will lose over the years, sometimes gifted, other times taken from us.
At this dawn of a new year, there is one more thing I want to leave behind me. I want to close the chapter on this grief I’ve been carrying with me, from when fatigue became such a big part of my life. I am done with being frustrated over things I can’t change. I need to learn to embrace the life I’m living now, not look wistfully at the one I would like to have.
In the face of the vastness of life and the seemingly innumerable achievements of others, it’s easy to think our life doesn’t matter. Sometimes our achievements pale in comparison to those of others. We want to do great things for the world, but instead we are left pouring all our love and passion into the small things we can do.
But every life matters, whether you’re sailing along in the fast lane, or sat watching the world go by. We all have a purpose and a future, regardless of the people and things we’ve left behind. You are enough, on the days you can face the world with a smile and the days you hide under the covers. No one can be the person you were created to be.
In 2018, I don’t plan on reinventing myself. I won’t set new year’s resolutions that will be forgotten by February. Instead, I hope to embrace each moment, knowing that no one’s eyes will see it quite like I will. It’s time to realize that I have not been left behind, but positioned on the path God needs me to be on, for reasons I don’t need to understand. I don’t know what 2018 will hold, but I trust the one who does.