It feels like I've just blinked and this year is nearly over. After all that has happened, how will I remember 2011?
There really is only one word that can describe this year:
I remember a few years back I caught up with an acquaintance and asked her how she'd been going. She shrugged and told me she and her family were just plodding along. That meant that life was neither thrilling nor depressing. It was just ordinary.
For me, 2011 has been a year of two steps forward, one step back. This has been frustrating, but it has also been a blessing. In a year of losing a loved one, illness, house renovations, and adjusting to life in another small town, I have been grateful that the end of this year has been better than the last. At least now our house has more or less been fixed and I am in reasonably good health. I lowered my expectations this year. I stopped putting pressure on myself to build relationships too quickly and was content to slowly get involved in the community. I learnt and I am still learning to say 'no'.
But other relationships have been hard. I have lost some of my passion for things like group Bible study. I am over feeling left out and having everyone in the group talk non-stop about babies and ask me if I'm pregnant yet. Although I need lots of time alone to recharge for social occasions, at times I have felt lonely...really lonely. Part of the reason I have struggled in the latter half of the year is that I work in an office all by myself and there are very few people who drop in. When I signed the contract, I assumed my boss would be working in the office with me. Later I found out that she'd always intended to keep working from home. Working alone all day probably sounds like bliss to mums with small children, but you can definitely have too much of a good thing.
One good thing about this year is that I finally feel some peace where lopsided friendships are concerned. I have dropped the ball with some people - not in a nasty, vengeful sort of way, but I feel silly initiating contact and inviting people only to hear a list of excuses or nothing at all. As a friend of mine once said, "If you email the same person a few times and they don't ever reply, you start to feel like you're talking to yourself!" I'm not really much of a phone person anyway (I prefer email or letters) and there are only a small handful of people I ring, so don't be offended if you don't hear from me via the phone (I do appreciate people ringing though, I just don't like ringing people in case I've got them at a bad time, and then I feel terrible about it). If some people decide they want to keep in touch again, I'm more than happy to reciprocate, but I'm over busting my gut trying. I think I finally have started to move on and have raised the white flag and surrendered. It's funny that I've done almost a complete turnaround since I wrote this post. I still get annoyed at people who tell me they want to visit, but I know they never will. But I no longer feel the desire to corner people and batter them over the head with my diary trying to book them in to visit. If they want to visit, they know they're more than welcome to contact us and suggest a weekend, but the ball is firmly in their court.
Despite being thrilled that my house looks like a house and not a construction zone, I feel like I am ready to move on (I know, I keep telling myself, "You just moved a year ago! Are you insane?!?"). I don't belong here, but I know that on this earth no place will truly feel like home, and I will feel like an alien and a stranger wherever we are. I'm also feeling a lot more robust (I even thought I could clean my entire house and fix up my garden in one day - craziness that resulted in me crashing into bed, having failed in this enormous and ridiculous task). Despite this readyness to leave, I want to make the most of this time. All places will have their positives and negatives. I'm getting a strong feeling from God that our time here is in preparation for something, but I don't want to be too presumptuous about what He might be doing. More on that later.
Even though parts of this year have been difficult, I think plodding can be a positive experience. Christians are told to keep running the race, but that doesn't mean life is a sprint. The race is more like a marathon; it's not about speed, it's about whether you keep going. Each time I feel like I'm falling, God picks me up and keeps me pressing on. All Christians have 'walking through the desert' times. It might feel like two steps forward, one step back, but in the end, I am still moving forward.
Although a change of year doesn't make everything peachy, I have lots to look forward to in 2012 and lots to be grateful for. See you next year!