One year ago at this time I was toasting with friends that, if nothing else, are evidence that God is up to unforeseeable and perfect trouble all the time. We were sitting around an evening campfire in the Cederberg, South Africa. We had been speedily doing nothing at all after I had arrived hours earlier after over 24 hours of flight and New Year’s champagne somewhere over the Atlantic.
We were sharing words about what the next year might mean for us, wrapping up both our hopes and our predictions in one tiny word. When it came around to me, I said the word “next” which was immediately met with laughter. Shortly thereafter, when I repeated it, these friends realized I wasn’t passing my turn, but was rather choosing the word “next” as my choice of a defining word for 2015. Next in employment, next in understanding, next in outlook.
I’m never sure if self-fulfilling prophecy is a legitimate reality or simply a filter for reflective thought, but 2015 was no doubt the year of “next.”
I learned more about people, who they say they are, how they really are, and how things work than I ever wanted to know in 2015. I met people and groups and neighborhoods and communities I thought I knew about but learned I was completely ignorant of and disconnected from. I became friends with people I would have never known about but now can’t imagine operating without. I faced my biggest fears and insecurities, and faced the world the next day realizing that people are just as evil and just as good as I had imagined. I realized how hope and reality fight constantly, leaving me in a fragile reality where the battle is not over yet but I’m supposed to operate as if I know the ending.
I enter 2016 with texts of jealousy-inducing pictures from the same friends in the same Cederberg. I’m not sure what my word for 2016 is yet, but I’m grateful for all of the next that 2015 brought. I’m no longer afraid of “the worst” that others are capable of bringing, because they’ve brought it and I’m still standing. I’m no longer ignorant of so much of my own city I desperately need to be in relationship with, and I can’t go back operating as a wealthy white kid who doesn’t know what it’s costing everybody else. I’m no longer wondering if fighting when I might not win is worth it.
I’ve learned the good fight is always worth it. And I’ve learned that if I’m paying attention, there are always people who’ve been fighting and losing the good fight a long time who have a lot to teach me about being honest and brave. About taking up what Sara Groves calls the things that are “too heavy to carry and impossible to leave.”
So to 2016, I’m not sure what you’re bringing, but I’m sure that I’ll be ready.
Pine Tree Dr.