I love the promise of a new year.
The winter months are usually hard for me, but there is something glimmery about the first of January that makes me feel hopeful. A fresh start. All the possibilities of 365 brand new days.
Our 2013 went out like a lion. A nasty, fangy creature who kept us down with norovirus, an ear infection, strep throat, multiple colds and — the icing on the cake — head lice. I’ve learned that complaining on the internet about illness and other maladies seems to extend the bad luck, so that’s all I’m going to say about that.
As I cried/barfed into the toilet on Christmas morning, I never imagined I’d be feeling grateful and calm just days later.
Wallowing in self-pity didn’t get me very far, in terms of my aching heart, so I lay in bed on the first morning of the new year and forced myself to come up with ten wonderful things about 2013. They came easily … my family’s health and well-being, from my girls to my parents; the births of healthy babies to dear friends; a glorious wedding for Julie and Steve; pregnancy announcements; family gatherings; vacations; kindergarten.
My list grew way past ten. My head cleared. And my heart filled.
My life is abundant with countless reasons for gratitude. I am blessed and trying every day to be aware and deliberate in my thankfulness.
But I’m also afraid. Always afraid of what could happen, especially when I witness friends (and even strangers in news stories that float into my Facebook feed) experiencing the most heart-wrenching tragedies. I really don’t want to keep carrying this fear around. It’s heavy and barbed and could pretty much eat me alive in one big gulp.
I yearn to let it go. But I’m afraid if I stop worrying, that will make room for something bad to happen. I won’t be prepared, right?
Nothing could possibly prepare me for the unspeakable. And carrying around all that fear just isn’t good for me. It accomplishes nothing.
I’m open about the fact that I take anti-anxiety medication. It helps. And I’ve been in therapy. I try yoga and I’m considering meditation (if the thought of quieting my brain wasn’t so daunting). I read and take baths and go to movies alone — I know how to take care of myself.
I can escape the fear for a little while, but it never really goes away.
I think I might know the antidote, but I’m afraid to say it out loud (I don’t know why):
I am a very skeptical, damaged, disillusioned Catholic. I talk to God (or is it Jesus? I’m not sure) all the time and I definitely believe there is more to our existence (so much beauty!) than science could possible create. I just don’t feel strong enough in my faith to untangle the worry and fear from my heart. I am in awe of people who can do it. Especially those who have suffered unthinkable loss.
And the current state of organized religion in our world makes me want to run and hide. The things people say and do in the name of their higher power/religious organization can be horrifying. That’s definitely not what I’m looking for.
I want a relationship with God that will free me to release this burden of fear and open my eyes to a new way of living, especially in how I love and care for others (even strangers).
My God-shaped hole feels pretty big. I don’t consider myself materialistic or superficial, but I’m pretty sure I’m trying to fill that hole with all the wrong things (cheetos? no?). And I’m chasing my tail trying to control all the things that are entirely out of my hands.
So my quest for 2014 (and who knows how many years following) is to uncover my faith and pursue it. In whatever form or fashion it takes.
I owe it to myself. I owe it to my girls. And I’m finally ready.