Goodbye Letter to 2016

Dear 2016,

Our time together is coming to a close. It’s time for me to say goodbye to you. It’s been quite the year with you. A lot of people are upset about the fact that you took so many of our great ones this year. You kept going right up to the end. Can I be honest, though? I’m upset for different reasons.

I’m disappointed that the things that really matter are still the same. I’m bothered that with all the taking that you did this year, you didn’t bother taking the stuff that needed to go.

You didn’t take greed. You didn’t take lust. You made no effort to take entitlement and laziness with you when you go. Soon you’ll be gone, and you will be leaving behind a whole slew of people that promote these things and more. People that thrive on war and violence. You’re leaving us with people that promote discord instead of understanding and brotherly love. I didn’t see you taking away the heartbreak left when people abandon their families. You are leaving starvation, disease, homelessness, loneliness, godlessness, abuse, and unrest. Worse? You’re leaving all the people and groups that feed off this negativity and the lucre and energy it creates. Not cool.

While I am in the throes of honesty I will confess that I am not entirely displeased with you. Not even mostly unhappy. I am also feeling all the good vibes. You not only left all of the aforementioned trash, you left some pretty fantastic stuff.

One of my favorites gifts is the teenager you left in my home in October. I knew you would be the one to break me into parenting a teenager. Still, I felt unprepared. It still breaks my heart every morning that I wake up and hear his deep man voice in place of his sweet childish squeals. It tears at me again when I go into his room at night before I retire for the evening to see him taking up all the space on his full size bed. Through the heartache, though, there is joy. I never believed I would delight in having a teen. You are leaving me with a great one though. I know this because you gave me the one thing I needed most. Time. I needed time, and lots of it, to find the happiness in this new phase. The questions, thoughts, and ideas of my thirteen-year-old boy have been insightful and meaningful. They bring a new depth to our relationship.

You gave me enough days to realize that I needed to learn new parenting skills. You gave me the time I needed to find them. You gave me the time I needed to make beautiful memories with my oldest daughter. Those days of laughter and love cannot be taken away. They happened. All the strain of the tween years that wear on a mother and daughter was eased with those sweet moments…because I had the time.

You are leaving behind change. My youngest is becoming more and more herself every day. Watching her growth while she remains confident and joyful tells me I did right this year. I didn’t mess her up. I did stuff right. I did better this year.

You are leaving me stronger than 2015. You gave me the chance to do a lot of work inside myself this year. You are leaving, but you are leaving me with new friends to start 2017. They are the kind of friends that inspire me to “become” and to continue growing. I’m a better friend this year, a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter. In all, you are leaving behind a better woman this year. That must make you pretty sad, walking away from this much awesome. 😉 But I bet it makes you happy too. Isn’t that what you wanted?

I know you are leaving behind despicable trash that upsets a lot of us. But I’ll tell you the biggest secret of all. I’m a little bit glad that you are. All of that garbage has inspired me to be better. It reminds me that I can’t change the world. (Neither could you, apparently.) I look at the suffering left behind this year, and I remember that the only life I can ultimately control is my own. My sphere of influence is small, but I want to be a force of love, light, honesty, wisdom, and peace. If things were easy all over, I don’t know that I would feel the urgency to bloom like I do. And I think, in the end, Tolstoy was right. It’s only individuals that can kick that trash out of their lives. It’s only the individual who can change and expel all the seeds of darkness from themselves. It’s only the individual who can change. People changing themselves is what changes the world. All you can really give us is time. Yet, just like you, time comes to an end. You don’t last forever.

So thank you, 2016. Thank you for the garbage. Thank you for the hurts. Thank you for the discomfort. Thank you for the laughs. Thank you for the blessings. Thank you for joy. Thank you for reminding us all that we don’t have forever. Thank you for taking so much of my personal rubbish with you when you leave. I love you for all of it.

Thank you.

Take It, and Be Thankful

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