2016: “you can’t always have joy” ; a lesson in gratitude

This past week leading up to the start of 2017 I have seen dozens and dozens of posts complaining about 2016. “Worst year ever.” That has really been heavy on my heart. Some people had very real issues that they were upset about. However, a lot of it… well I’m sure you can imagine what was being said. It actually hurt, and maybe even offended me to see people condemning an entire year. Surely something good happened to you. (If nothing else most of you discovered Hamilton this year, though yes it was technically premiered off Broadway in 2015, your life changed this year!) 
Then, last night, one of the boys we were babysitting said something amazing. Something that so many of my adult friends need a reminder of and that I wanted to put into words and share! We were watching Inside Out. In the beginning of the film you see all of these globes that represent memories. All the happy memories are gold, angry are red, sad are blue, etc. At the start of the film almost every memory is represented as golden. The little boy leaned over to me and said “that’s not like real life! You can’t always have joy. You need to be sad too. Otherwise you won’t know when you’re happy. It’s like, you catch a jiggly puff and you just are like cool *monotone voice* . Cause you always catch Pokémon and you haven’t been sad.” 
I was so impressed with how insightful this young boy was! (I also took a mental note of a good parenting lesson I want to teach our daughter). I think this is an essential lesson of the gospel. But beyond that, I think this is a crucial lesson to a happy, overall fulfilling life. Yes, this year had struggles and things that we wouldn’t have chosen. However, without darkness there is no light. Without opposition how could we appreciate the good? 

So was 2016 the best year politically? Maybe not. I wasn’t a huge fan of either major political party candidates. (We voted third party). But at the end of the day- in 2016 you were so fortunate as to live in a country where you have the freedom to safely and freely walk into a local booth and VOTE. And for that matter, you live in a country where in four years YOU GET TO VOTE AGAIN. THAT is truly an amazing, under appreciated blessing. 

As for people condemning 2016 because of the passing away of celebrities, I’m going to refrain from a lesson in parasocial relationships and how unhealthy I find them to be. Instead I’ll just say, while yes, death can be sad. In my opinion, it’s sad for those who are still here. I believe in an after life and a loving God. I think in that I have to recognize that death is only heartbreaking for those left behind to miss the deceased. Because surly, as a Believer, I have to accept that they are in a happier, better place. (And, could I argue, for those who believe that there is nothing after death- if there is nothing than surly there is no grief or pain haunting those passed on. However, I can 100% admit that I am unschooled in that train of thought). I would just urge you to dig inside and see if your entire year was spoiled because of the deaths of (beloved, respected, and cherished) celebrities that you don’t actually know. Does the sting of their deaths overshadow every time you got to hug your family, kiss your pet, and accomplish something you’ve worked for? 

What I am trying to say is this. When I reflect back on 2016 I could choose to see struggling in school, friendships, relationships, work, etc. However, I choose to see all of the amazing things instead. 

I could look back and see a semester of tears, trying classmates, and hard work. Instead, I choose to see a semester that brought me closer to professors. A semester where I learned how strong I am! A semester where I tried my hardest and my straight A’s proved that I am a capable, intelligent woman. I choose to be so thankful and excited that I have the opportunity to receive a high quality education! 
I could look back and remember every day I didn’t want to go to work. I could remember the silly dramas and sore feet. Instead I choose to remember that I am graduating DEBT FREE. I choose to remember that I was able to pay my car note every month without my husband’s (willing) help. I have proven to myself that I am hard working! That I can handle responsibility and I am willing to help support myself without any entitlement delusions. I’m proud of that. 

I could look back on every fight my husband and I had and I could choose to be frustrated or sad. Instead, I choose to think back and realize that for the entire year of 2016 I had a partner who loved me every day. Who provided a roof over my head and laughter in my soul. I choose to see 365 days of an adventure. 
At the end of the year I have a wonderful husband and 2016 was filled with hundreds of small and large joys we got to share in together! From the daily cat snuggles to finding out one of my besties is expecting a baby!! I also was able to spend a few weeks in China loving and serving a beautiful people. Michael and I spent two weeks exploring London and Paris! We saw tons of extended family. We took my perfect puppy on dozens of adventures. I got to travel to Colorado and Utah to see people I love. Then we had a total blast in Florida with Soph and Toph for the Forth of July. We visited North Carolina to see one of my favorite uncles get married! I rode in a fire truck and started this blog. Virginia spent a week visiting in June, Michael and I spent a romantic Valentines Day weekend in a gorgeous cabin in Gatlinburg, and Michael threw me my very first surprise birthday party. My family also spent Christmas together and we moved into a beautiful home. Oh and did I mention: WE FOUND OUT WE ARE HAVING A PERFECT LITTLE BABY. AND SHE IS A GIRL. So thank you 2016 for every little bump in the road that made me appreciate the absolutely wonderful year I was able to experience. 2017- I’m so excited to see what you teach me!

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2 thoughts on “2016: “you can’t always have joy” ; a lesson in gratitude

  1. I completely agree with you! How people are reacting to 2016 reminds me of a pin i saw the other week. “Are your really having a bad day or did you have a bad 5 minutes you milked throughout the day?” (Paraphrased) i feel like thats how some people are acting with 2016. Unless an overwhelmingly awful tragedy happened, your year is what you make it 💛

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