...and 2010 is Jaws. Smile, you son of a...
To say that I'll be happy to see 2010 go would be quite the understatement. And if you know me or you've been following this blog (and if you've been following this blog and you don't know me...creepy!) (No I'm kidding, it's not creepy), you can probably understand why. Three emergency hospital trips with my son (two of which were fairly late at night, because emergencies just can't happen between 9 and 5), three emergency trips to the hospital with my wife (each for the same thing), an entire summer of zero excess "fun money" spending, a month of 14-hour workdays, computer repairs, creative frustrations, and several things I never even mentioned on this blog. Also learned some things of myself that forced me to change and grow in ways that have been difficult and humbling. All of it capped off with this latest episode of Kim laid up at home in a time that's so stressful we're constantly teetering on the brink of...badness (for lack of a more accurate term). I'm generally a fairly optimistic fellow, but the majority of this year has felt something like a kick to the gut.
Now, I want to make something really clear: I don't feel like life's not being fair to me. I don't feel like I've got it terrible. I know that there are folks I know who've had it much rougher than I have this year. This isn't a "woe is me" moment, and I hope it doesn't come across that way. Like yesterday: I know most artists I'm friends with had a similarly frustrating year. I know some had it worse than I did. I'm not parading my struggles to solicit sympathy from anyone. Nevertheless, I think it's important to dredge it all up one last time for two reasons:
1) This is a year-in-review post. My thesis is that I'll be glad 2010 is gone, and this is why.
2) That, when I say this next part, you would know from whence it comes.
See, there have been points in 2010 where everything I've ever had to lean against has crumbled beneath me. At times, theater failed to sustain me. At times, friends failed. So did writing. There were times when not even my family was able to keep me on my feet. And I knew that I was failing to provide each of these pillars with what they needed of me as well. There were times I was going broke with bills to pay and no influx of cash anywhere in sight. And not one or two times, either. As much as half of this past year was spent living in what felt like an impenetrable haze settling over unsteady ground, knowing there was a drop-off somewhere and fearing I was headed toward it. This isn't me searching for flowery writer-language; this is the way it was. Honestly, the way it is right now.
I had to have everything kicked out from under me to realize that all I've ever had was God. Each of these others--family, friends, art, money, sports, everything--it's good, and it's been good. But it can't sustain me. It can't take care of me. And quite honestly, I can't take care of all of it, either. Because sometimes, life sucks, and there's quite honestly nothing to be done about it. The scripture says that even my life is but a breath, nothing more than a passing shadow. When everything else was pounding me, He was all that was solid. When I was on my face in the dirt, reaching for the strength to reach out and pull myself into the next day, He was always the handhold that never crumbled.
This is one of those, "Well, no duh" discoveries that all Christians say we believe. I mean, hello, that's what all the praise songs say, right? But A) it's hard to really know what it means until it happens to you, and B) it can be equally hard to learn and accept that knowing the impact of All other ground is sinking sand isn't necessarily going to make you situation any easier to go through. Currently, it's a struggle to face each day. I'm exhausted before I wake up. I don't get enough sleep and I have to wake up earlier than usual to take care of Robbie. And that hasn't even begun in earnest yet. (Next week will be a rough wake-up call in that regard) The emotional and psychological toll of dealing with our current situation is at times overwhelming. Having Kim on bed rest at home with Robbie is far more difficult than having her in bed at the hospital for six weeks was three years ago. And we likely still have six weeks to go. I don't believe that we'll have the money in our current circumstances to afford two children in day care for very long. That won't be an issue for another several months, but it is on the horizon. And I know and truly believe that by the grace of God, we will come through these ordeals. In the meantime, however, they are still ordeals.
So, what, exactly am I saying here? This year has been bad more than it's been good, at least from my perspective. God has proven Himself faithful and powerful and, at times, highly ironic. And He'll continue to do so. In the meantime, if all He gives is enough for me to scrape by one day after another, then I'll rejoice in that. In fact, I've mentioned this in conversations once or twice, but I'm going to make it official: The official FOMW Song for 2010 is Switchfoot's Sing it Out:
Sing it out, sing it out,
Take what is left of me, make it a melody.
Sing it out, sing out loud.
I can't find the words to sing, come be my remedy.
My song, my song, I'll sing with what's left of me.
I'm holding on, holding on to You,
My world it wrong, my world lies come true.
And I fall in love with the ones that run me through,
When all along, all I need is You.
My song, my song,
I'll sing with what's left of me..."
Hey look, that's the quote at the top of my blog! (I picked that long before any of this other "stuff" happened)
Dear 2010: You tried to break me many times over. In one sense, you've pretty much succeeded. Good for you. But now you're done, and I'm still standing. On a Rock. Turns out the Lord gave me just enough strength to see you put to rest. It may be 2011 is meaner, nastier, and rougher than you showed even on your worst day. Well, whatever. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He's the strong tower in which I am saved. If all He grants is barely enough, it is still enough.
All glory to God in the highest. All of it.
With all of that said, it's important (to me) to recall the positives from this year. I logged a bunch of them in yesterday's Top 7 post, but there have been some major high points surrounding the valleys. And God has been just as good in the good times as He has in the bad ones ;-)
My second play has been accepted for publication. I'll link to that when it happens. Should be early spring. I'll get almost a nickel for every copy of the script that is sold. I will be rich in no time.
I did start a second job, working with the children's ministry at my church. I'm still learning what that means in a lot of ways. I'd appreciate prayers going into the new year as I have to get the ball rolling toward the summer. Camp, VBS, all that good stuff. The job's been a blessing for my family and, I hope, for the church as well. And the Fall Carnival, while a bit stressful to set up, was an absolute blast.
Of course, the discovery that another little boy would soon be joining our family has to rank as the best news of the year. Despite all the difficulties and struggles we're currently going through, this is the happiest thing I have to look forward to in 2011. And was probably the best night in all of 2010.
On a much more trivial note: The Winter Olympics were a blast. They were in North America, so I actually got to watch things live. The hockey tournament was outstanding. And I still can't think back to the Gold Medal game without biting the inside of my mouth or pounding a tabletop in frustration. For a team that wasn't supposed to finish any higher than sixth, a silver medal is an outstanding result. But still....so freaking close!!!
Also: my birthday party was awesome. That sounds like a funny thing to be excited about, but you have to realize my attempts to get a group together for any sort of social event almost always end in frustration or disaster. Or both. So to get 20 of my friends together for any reason, let alone a late-spring afternoon ball game, was kinda like a dream come true. I'm thinking about trying to make it an annual thing, but I'm afraid to press my luck for a second successful social event.
Let's see, what else...Aeros games, midnight movies, Jason and Kat's wedding, summer vacation to KS/OK, any time spent with friends, touring bookings, Alice rehearsals, Pooh performances, great books, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the World Cup, beach trip, playing with diggers with my son. Truly, it hasn't been "all bad" this year. There have always been cracks of sunlight in the wall of storm clouds. And such is life. There are rainy seasons, there are sunny seasons, and if you don't live in Houston, there are also snowy seasons. Here's hoping for more sun than rain in 2011. But if there's not...well, you know. We can reconvene back here in one year and talk about what we've learned again ;-)