It is time to once again close out a year of our lives and to welcome in 2014.
Many of the news stations run a “year in review” piece highlighting the top stories of 2013. For many Oklahomans, it will bring painful memories of tragic loss, historic storms and difficult economic times.
We well remember the month of May, which brought the state two F5 and one F4 tornadoes within a span of 11 days. The images of the damage, featuring elementary schools leveled and young children killed in their classrooms are burned into our collective memory. Even for a state used to dealing with tragedy, 2013 was a tough one. The recovery will continue for many years yet.
Perhaps the year brought tragedy to you or your family, the loss of a loved one, unemployment, unwanted change. Every year has its challenges, most of which we don’t even see coming. It is easy to become hopeless, to allow the difficult experiences of the past year to overtake us with despair.
I recently wrote to the mother of a young woman who took her life this past April. The pain of her loss seemed undiminished over nearly eight months of hard grief. I wondered what I could possibly say to her to encourage her, to give her a feeling that 2014 could somehow bring an improvement to her devastated life.
I thought about the most difficult times in my own life and I wrote her this: “When it is finally light again you will see, you were awesomely built to withstand the awful dark.”
It often seems beyond our capacity to imagine our lives being filled once again with light, joy, hope. Yet each year as the new year approaches, somehow, no matter what has happened in the past 12 months, we find ourselves looking forward to the hope offered by another new beginning. It is in us to do so.
As a counselor, I see people go through things it initially seems human beings were not built to withstand. It always seems that way for a while when something particularly devastating occurs in our lives. But the next thing I see is a profound and, what I believe to be, innate, reservoir of incredible resiliency emerge in people that often surprises them because they didn’t even know they had it. I have come to believe it is written into our software to find a way to keep looking for hope, to persevere against all odds, to get up and try just one more day.
As you prepare for a new year, my hope is that whatever 2013 has brought, you will be renewed in your heart, your mind, in your spirit. I hope you will find reason to welcome another year, despite whatever challenges the past one has brought you.
And I sincerely believe you will. Because I really do believe we are awesomely built that way.