2008, you were a _____________ year. (for the phrase, thank you IM)

as impossible as it is to characterize an entire year in one adjective, for some reason it is a good thought. it is good that it is in second person, a direct address. it is good that the year has a distinct reality, as sometimes our past can seem hazy and blended together. so what comes to mind? how would you fill in that blank?

in the context i first encountered this phrase, the blank stood for shitty--a word they didn't want to explicitly say. i'll say it, because i think there is a reality in appropriate language. not "appropriate" language, but language that truly fits a situation.

did i have a shitty year? well, no--that wouldn't be entirely accurate by any means. and yet, that's what i want to call 2008. disappointment can be quite the shading light. or shadow is probably a better term. maybe it's about looking for the light, not peering into the shadows. "shitty" is by no means the appropriate word. it is not the reality.

so what is the word for me? the word is dark. i don't mean for that to sound as dreadful as it perhaps might be taken. it's the rain not just the sun that helps a flower bloom, and light is scarce through the thick clouds of storms. i feel like i often flirt with vulnerability here, never really going too far--perhaps it's because a blog isn't an appropriate place for that, perhaps because it is so hard to be truly understood in this sort of medium. well, i think that i would rather be misunderstood or borderline inappropriate than disingenuous.

it wasn't long into you old 2008 when during a prayer vigil i was given the word "emptiness." that was to be my season, my place. it's strange how so very often this very inward place can be so unconnected from many of the outward realities of my life--how i interact with people, relationships, ministry, etc. but the inward reality is sharp and strong, and it is what pervades in retrospect. though the outward would in many ways begin to follow.

there was a search for a way out for a good while. a lesson, a revelation, a great purpose to have it all make sense--the ornate doors through which it would all be left behind, into freedom and fellowship and joy. no. pragmatism in no redemption. and loss is in many ways unredeemable. there is no reclaiming. for there is no claim on a life that is no longer your own. it is death. and that is the path down which any must go who are so foolishly willing before they begin. i fear that path ahead. i fear what else will be lost, what else we be taken.

i'm beginning to realize that my view of God is somewhat demanding, always wanting more. not in a sadistic way, but still always progressing. and i think i treat others in much the same way. if you're not growing you're going backwards. riiight. Lord save me from pragmatism and product/results-based spirituality.

what makes us think that a change in a number can cause all the old to go away and the new to be completely fresh? that just isn't the case in so many ways. i will live with the same things i bore in 2008. they will be no better simply because some numbers have reset. that doesn't mean i won't hope and look for a little light, though that certainly has been getting harder of late. is the heart the last thing to go?

a new year doesn't mean a new season. but here's to hoping that newness finds our way into the tired and wearisome places of our journeys. happy 2009.


  1. "my view of God was somewhat demanding." This isn't all bad. I think it is in more ways good than bad. The ways in which we desire to grow when asking God for things are generally things that we see as good, things that we ask for in order to advance in the way we see as good. An inward desire to please God....? I think so, seemings how we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. This inward desire to please God can also easily be skewed by pleasing ourselves, but that is the human nature. God still loves it when we ask him for things, even if the things we ask for may seem demanding. Looking back, I"m sure my father never minded when I would ask for things, even things that he saw were good in nature, but not right for me. A lot of times he said no out of love although it didn't seem loving at the time, it seemed harsh. Later we eventually thank our Fathers for their wisdom.
    Indeed, it is when we are demanding of people that we get in trouble. Humans are bound to let us down. Praise the Lord for Grace that allows us to forgive and see past.
    The whole notion of a new year being a mark of a new stage is quite silly, haha. It's funny how we all find some hope in the new year though. Perhaps its just our nature to clasify. We generally remember what happened to us by remembering the year in which they happened. We also examine ourselves by what marked us during that year. I find myself hoping that the new year will be one of less hurt... of big leaps of growing faith, and a time of overwhelming joy. Hm, probably not, but I always hope for that. It makes things easier.

  2. Luke, guess what....
    We have a blog! I'm excited to start following yours, so you should follow ours too!

    Happy New Year!

  3. um you should come back soon you are missing too many fun games....

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the hard times. I'm afraid of what else will be taken too. I'm afraid of the ways I will have to die. After spending so much time in the dark because of my own obedience, I think my heart is almost too trashed to choose rightly--to choose obedience always. It is so easy to believe Satan's lies in the darkness. But God is/was faithful even in my disbelief and doubt. He showed me that in Africa. And He shared something with me the other night. He showed me that it is His Word that heals. That's in Psalm 107. May His Word heal you as I hope it will be healing me.