I wrote most of this the New Year’s Eve after chemo, but I’ve been re-posting it every year as a reminder to myself of what’s important at the turn of the year, especially of what to leave behind, and what to take forward. I’m grateful for every year I get to share it, and every day I get to live it.
With every passing year, time really does seem to move faster and faster. “Old people” said that to us when we were young, and we nodded politely, but never really believed it. We felt indestructible and immortal. Then life happened. Most of it wonderful, but some of it shattered that sense of immortality. For many of us, there have been days that have tested us so hard, we’ve looked at a new year or birthday more in terms of what we’ve lost, rather than what we have to look forward to.
When I was diagnosed with lymphoma, I trusted God—to a point. I really wasn’t sure I would see a new year. I was trying to act as brave as I thought people expected of me, but I was constantly fighting fear and sadness.
When I walked into the cancer center the first time, I assumed I’d find a lot of anxiety and depression. Instead, I was surprised to find, for the most part, genuinely happy people. At first that confused me. But as I listened to their conversations, I began to understand the mindset: cancer might take our lives, but we didn’t have to let it take this day. This thing we were all fighting was damaging our bodies, but that didn’t mean we had to give it the power to control our joy, peace, and hope.
That may sound like a sappy Hallmark movie, but it’s true, and changed how I saw my life and what I was facing. Life is not a ticking clock—every day is an opportunity to experience God’s grace and peace, embrace joy and wonder, and empower others to do the same. Life is learning how to love and be loved through every adventure. It’s staying in gratefulness for what’s good through every challenge, enjoying and celebrating relationships, and appreciating the awe of every moment I get to be here.
I don’t see my life in terms of what’s left anymore. I’m trying to live by God’s grace, and learning to see each day as a gift. And that’s a whole lot more fun and freeing. So, when I say I’m thankful for 2018, despite its changes and challenges, I mean it. And when I welcome 2019 tonight, it’s not with stress of what I may have to face, or pressure of what needs to be accomplished before time is up. It’s with pleasure, enjoying it conscious of God’s presence, and in gratitude for the family, friends, and life I have.
Happy New Year, everyone. No matter what it looks like on the outside, I pray this coming year is the greatest blessing of your life.