2014: The Year That Really, Really Sucked.

2014 has been the worst year of my life. No really, it has been.

“Life,” of course, is lived more in stages and vignettes than in a totality of lived days. So when I say 2014 has been the worst year of my life, I don’t mean it’s been worse than the year my son passed away, or the times from my life I was completely destitute, or any other terrible year from a prior life of mine. I mean instead that 2014 has been the worst year in this stage of life—the stage in which I’m in my thirties, married with (what to me is) lots of kids, and have lived out one career and am in the early days of another.

But to be honest, 2014 is the only year that has been so consistently bad from start to finish. Rather than a series of vignettes, 2014 has been a 1.2-million-word Mission Earth kind of year.

“Why,” you may ask, “has this year been so bad?”

To which I respond, “it’s complicated.”

Complications aside, the simplistic glory of a bad year is how the good times shine all the brighter through the dark and mired days, such as:

–joyfully celebrating a fairly stress-free Christmas.

–seeing my oldest walk towards me, suitcase in hand, smiling and ready to stay a while.

–finding four walls to call home.

–witnessing a four-year-old’s first snow.

What I mostly see as I look for the constellation of pinpoints from 2014 is family. Lots and lots of family. Family gathering at the dinner table (always my favorite thing), singing in the van, packing boxes, and, yes, even saying goodbye.

Instead of a dearth of community, I see within those shining lights a husband and wife determined to make a go of it, walking hand in hand into new churches, a new neighborhood, a new town.

Instead of a lost career I see an exciting opportunity to be more, live more, create more.

Instead of children separated by miles, I see joy-filled, tear-filled reunions, brimming with tickles and stories and glitter and Elsa… so much Elsa.

Instead of overwhelming sadness, I see through always-threatening tears a friend’s newfound dedication to living a lovehard life, searching for her own pinpoint-constellation in this darkest of years.

Although I’ve always made them, I’ve never really believed in New Year’s Resolutions. If you have a goal, why wait for January 1? Why not start now? But this year I’m convinced that January 1, 2015 will start something new. Something wonderful, full of laughter and friendships and loving hard. A year in which I fail at times to exhibit patience and grace, but will succeed in forgiving myself, determined to try again. A year in which goal setting is less important than life living, and playing trains and creating crafts become my be all and end all.

Today isn’t the day to start. I have a cold. I’m tired and I’m cranky and the kids’ schools have been closed for what seems an eternity. But in these last two days, whether my family believes it or not, I will be working on building up a reserve of all the things I know I’ll need in the year to come. Should you have any of these things to spare—love, patience, grace, serenity, humor, wisdom—please feel free to send them my way. Your kindness may just help me close out 2014 with a happy bang, and usher in 2015 with the strength of community—virtual or otherwise—propelling me forward into my fresh start in a new place, shaking off the vestiges of west coast living to embrace fully this new chapter of east coast life.

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16 thoughts on “2014: The Year That Really, Really Sucked.

  1. Pingback: Wood Between the Worlds | jamie calloway-hanauer

  2. Tried to leave a comment earlier so if this shows up as a double, I’m sorry! Just wanted to say CHEERS to a new year, new memories, a new church and consistent childcare!

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  3. Well, I certainly hope and pray that one indescribably challenging year does not beget another — for you or for me. If the next year proves to be as glorious as you and I have the feeling it may be, this last extraordinarily difficult year will take on, rather, the character of foundational for the good things to come. May it be so for you and your family, Jamie.

    P.D. James wrote of her character Adam Dalgliesh that he tried to find some time alone each day. The idea at first seemed banal or “precious,” then tantalized me; that would mean despite a busy household and onerous responsibilities, somehow carving out a half hour or longer right in the midst of it all for solitary thought. That would mean focused intentional prayer for myself, not just endlessly for others. I did that for myself prior to marriage and when the children still took naps; afterwards, I journalled at night and prayed through scripture as family difficulties became extraordinary and church involvement became increasingly difficult. Merely entertaining the idea of time for myself amidst hubbub has helped me to turn away from the computer monitor (sometimes with paper and pen) to find the Prince of Peace. It is He, not we, who will adorn your beauty with wisdom, love, serenity, and all the charisms.

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    • Oh, I love this! I can’t remember the last time I spent time in intentional prayer for myself as a separate being from those around me.

      And to your first paragraph… yes, I have felt a shifting of some sort over the last 10 days, and I’m very excited to learn what’s in store for us this year.

      I hope all is well with you and yours.

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      • Your affirmative answer is a delight and an encouragement. All is extremely difficult with us, but God never promised getting where He wants us to be would be easy. It’s interesting the way God can slip in a Word here or a vision there that allows me to steer my course and to stay the course. But I have to make time to pray and listen so I can be on the right frequency — which might actually be a frequency! — for that to happen. I should be writing a book on what happens to the innocent (none of us is innocent, but you know what I mean) under an unconstitutional law: the Christian’s handbook on modern civil disobedience. Or perhaps a novel would reach more people if I could find a courageous publisher.

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  4. 2014 totally sucked. worst year ever. (also, not to be a total A-hole, but i think you actually mean “worst” and not “worse” in some of your sentences. not to make things worse.)

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    • Ugh. I shouldn’t write anything when I’m sick and tired. Thanks for pointing it out — would rather that than NOT pointing it out. (do I have spinach in my teeth?’) Yes, your year has been far more craptastic than mine. You know 2015 will be better because it can’t be worse than 2014. Love you and thinking of you daily.

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  5. Pingback: » 2014: The Year That Really, Really Sucked.

  6. wow. im sooo not alone. this has been thee worst year of my life. one I hope and thankfully will never have to relive again because somethings happen only once but im thankful and grateful to God it is over. yes.

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