I know what you're thinking: what, he's actually blogging?! OMG, stop the presses!! Yes, it is true, I have not been very good about blogging on this thing in a very long time. I can't promise that I will ever blog again after this post is published. I just really haven't been in the mood to sit down and write on this thing so I just haven't. Anyway, without further ado, I bring you to the subject of this very post.
I don't know how many of you are familiar with the concept of word of the year. It is the idea that you pick a word at the beginning of the year with the hope that you will actually live into that word over the course of the year. I've known about the word for a while but never actively participated in it. For me, the concept of coming up with a word for my entire year before the year has really even begun is just baffling and weird to me. And, if I'm being honest, a bit daunting. After all, what if I can't actually manage to live in to that word? What if I pick a word and my year doesn't end up fitting that word at all? Yeah, suffice it to say I have lofty expectations for myself when it comes to such a concept so I haven't ever participated before.
I'd like to start by taking a minute to reflect back on the past year. 2015 was my best year yet. I grew so much as a person, as a friend and as an individual. I graduated finally with my Masters degree. I moved to one of the most beautiful and diverse cities in the world. I started my first grown up big kid job (one that is actually in my field). I joined the SF Gay Men's Chorus, a group that has helped me find community and do something I love. I got my first tattoo (one that I'm so thrilled with and one that I still need to sit down and explain the rationale behind someday). I traveled to two states I had never been to before (North Carolina and Utah) and I met a United States senator! Plus, I got to see One Direction and Lee Ann Womack in concert! Yeah, 2015 was jam-packed with lots of activity and excitement. Is it possible to have a word that sums up the year? What word could possibly describe this past 365 days of my life?
For me, the word for 2015 would be hope. I spent the first few months of 2015 unsure where I was going and what I was going to be doing next. This time last year I was in the process of applying for jobs out of state and praying to God that I would get one of them. I felt that my time in the Bay Area had come to an end and I was ready to move on and experience life someplace new. Long story short, neither of the jobs I applied for even granted me an interview. I was disappointed and sad but by then I had also come to the realization that I wasn't quite as ready to say goodbye to California as I thought. So, I took it as a good sign that neither one of those jobs panned out. However this still meant that I was less than three months away from graduation without a job offer in sight and no housing leads either. I kept praying to God asking God to send me some sort of sign that opting to stay out here was the right move. Months went by with nothing. No job offers, no housing leads and graduation was looming ever closer. I was starting to get very angry and annoyed with God. It felt like my prayers weren't being heard. It felt like God didn't care anymore and had given up on me. Flash forward to August. 3 weeks before I needed to have something lined up, I got offered my current position as a hospital chaplain. Then, just a few days later, I got offered a place to live in SF that was within my budget and would only be a short 30 minute commute to work. Did I mention that this all happened just before I had to be out of my on campus housing? Yeah, God was listening to my prayers. God heard every single one of them but God was just waiting for the exact right moment and the exact right thing before God could answer them. I kept holding out hope that God would provide. Turns out, my hopes weren't misplaced. God sent me the exact right things at exactly the right time and keeping my hope in God and prayer alive.
So yeah, I'd say hope would be a great word to sum up my 2015. So, what about 2016? Do I even dare and try to already think of a word that could possibly encapsulate this next year of my life? There's so much pressure here. Whatever word I pick I feel like I have to live up to. I like the idea of challenging myself to live in to a word. So, here goes nothing. My word for 2016 is:
Yep, my word is JOY!
Joy is not a word that comes easily to me. I'm a pessimist with clinical depression so the concept of being full of joy about anything is not something I've been very good at. But I want to approach this year with joy. I want to be joyful and appreciative of all I have. I want to try new things and not complain about them. I want to not be a "bitter, old cynic" and instead look forward to whatever this year might bring me, good or bad or neutral. I want to maintain my sense of joy because I know what it looks like to live without that. I lived without joy or hope or anything positive for too long and I'm tired of living that way. So, I'm declaring 2016 the year of JOY! May it be so!