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A Series of Impossible Events

2016 has been a shit year for a lot of people. 

But not for me. In fact, this year seems to be year of impossible things happening all at once. 

On September 14, 2016, Mike and I got officially engaged! It wasn’t some big, grand production, just a very sweet moment when, after a few months of talking about it, Mike looked at me and said “I’m going to marry you,” and that was about it. Well, until two days ago, when we picked up my rings and he asked, just before sliding the ring on my finger. I’m happy and excited, but even more than that is this feeling that it’s right. Like we make so much sense together that it’s the most natural thing. We thought we were sappy and schmoopy and obnoxious before, but holy cow. This is a whole new level. 

About a month ago, I finished the second longest interview process EVER, and I was offered my first choice job, just 4.5 miles from (as opposed to the 43 miles each way that I was driving), with an unbelievable raise in salary, and out of the toxic mess my previous company had become. I was able to give my notice and take a week of “staycation” before I start my new job on Monday. 

And then, tonight. Tonight, I saw the impossible happen: my Cubs, the team I’ve loved my whole life long, won the World Series. I screamed and cried. I couldn’t believe it. It still seems surreal. Impossible. 

So now, here I am, outside of a Dick’s Sporting Goods at 1:30 AM, waiting for my sister, who made it inside, to buy me a shirt, with a ring on my finger, the best fiancĂ© at home waiting for me, and a kind of excitement that I can’t express. 

I almost don’t know what to do with this hope. What do you do when all of these things that were otherwise impossible start actually happening? 

I guess you just go with it. You take a deep breath and hold on tight, and you keep both eyes open so you don’t  miss a moment of it. 

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Auld Lang Syne

Twice this Advent season, the musicians at church have played the perennial New Year’s Eve song, Auld Lang Syne. Once on the bagpipes and once on guitar and flute. I’ve always liked the song, but this year, a year that has seen the biggest transformation of my life (so far), it seems to have more meaning. The first verse and chorus are fairly well known, but I like the other verses, too. In many ways, the song fits this New Year’s Eve better than it ever has before:

Auld Lang Syne (meaning, “the old times”)

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne.

This year, I chose to resign from full-time ministry and leave the denomination in which I grew up. It was the right decision for me, after years of pain and unhappiness, but it was still sorrowful. In some arguments, it would be totally justifiable to wash my hands completely and never look back. However, I cannot and will not deny the positive memories and lessons there, nor the incredible friendships I have gained. New adventures no doubt lay ahead, but I choose to acknowledge and, in some ways, honor, the place from which I came.

Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup of kindness here,
For auld lang syne.

My goal for the year was to be kind to myself. I succeeded with varying success and in ways I didn’t anticipate. My goal remains the same, to continue to be kind to myself, and let things happen in time. Sometimes that means accepting that kindness is due in light of past hurts, and patience and forgiving myself are acts of kindness.

And surely you’ll buy your pint-jug!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

I used to feel like it was my responsibility to take care of everyone, often at my own expense. This year, I learned a bit more about letting others buy their own proverbial pint, loving myself enough to buy one for myself, but also gaining a good dose of humility through these last few weeks, when I have had to let others help me out.

We two have run about the hills
And pulled the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many, the weary foot
Since auld lang syne.

This verse makes me think of my oldest friends, but especially Al. She and I go back to memories of picking dandelions and splashes in kiddie pools, times of ignorant joy, but we have also waded through sick parents, a child with special needs, financial burdens, and other things that still feel too grown up to be our realities. This year, we have both learned of peace and joy in uncertainty, and I am so grateful that we are witnesses of each other’s lives, to be able to say “I know where we came from, and what we’ve been through, and we’ll keep going in this together.”

We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
Since auld lang syne.

This year, I have often felt like I’m paddling frantically upstream and getting nowhere, but I’m reminded over and over by my tremendous tribe that I am not alone, despite geographic distances between us. The bonus of them living all over the world is that it is not impossible to think that even when I am sleeping, they are there for me. Even when things are rough between us, in the end, we are still an “us.”

And there’s a hand, my trusty friend!
And give us a hand of yours!
And we’ll take a deep draught of good-will
For auld lang syne.

So at the end of this intense year, I find myself ready for a new year like I never have been before: hopefully a new job soon, in this new town, with my new church, and with a new boyfriend – but not on my own, and not without all of you. You, my dear ones, the treasurers of my heart, are being asked to go with me in this season of newness. Because all of the new adventures in the universe are deeply intertwined with the days, moments, and people of auld lang syne.