I like to think that I am not typically a bandwagoner. I resisted the acid wash revival trend and I don't like pumpkin flavored drinks and I still don't think Seinfeld is funny.
But on the occasion that I do jump on a bandwagon, I make sure to try and drag everyone on with me. (I'm not #basic, you're just dumb). YOU'RE NOT WEARING HIGH WAISTED PANTS!? WHAT, DO YOU HATE YOUR INTESTINES OR DO YOU SIMPLY ENJOY THE SMALL, MORTIFYING EXERCISE OF TUCKING YOUR BELLY INTO YOUR WAISTBAND BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN?
That being said, I am ready to announce my #wordfor2018. Yes, thank you for waiting on the edge of your seat.
The fact that I cringe at its frivolousness is the very reason I chose it. Let me explain.
As most of you know, I'm a recovering pessimist. And like all pessimists, I readily and loftily explain that I'm a REALIST. (I'm not a #downer, you're just dumb.) And in the name of being REALISTIC, I've gotten into some sad and terrible habits over the years.
- I expect the worst.
- I prepare for the worst.
- I don't get my hopes up.
- I wait for the other shoe to drop.
I've scoffed at celebration and optimism as though they were foolish and adorable. Like my realism made me somehow wise or superior.
I don't make plans for abundance. I plan for scarcity and I call it responsibility.
But, like all of the fabricated identities we take on, this ‘responsibility’ – this ‘Realism’ was just Fear in disguise.
I was afraid of disappointment and hardship -- that celebration would somehow jinx me. I thought that I could prepare for darkness by hoarding light. Like some cosmic insurance policy, I thought that if I paid a little bit of misery and caution every day, that I could purchase peace and security in the future.
But I was so laughably wrong.
2017 contained my literal lifelong nightmare: mourning the loss of my baby. Plus some bonus terror with unemployment and mounting debt. And in the midst of all of my most harrowing fears, my pragmatism did me no good. My hopes were no less shattered because I kept them low. I was still gutted by all of the disappointment I had worked to avoid.
I spent so much time and effort preparing for the worst and yet when it was upon me, it was still the worst.
Grief, hardship, darkness -- it's so clarifying. It burns everything down to the least common denominator. The bare bone priorities. And you realize how silly most of our strategic, "realistic" planning ends up being.
I should have been hoping, dreaming and CELEBRATING all along. Because not celebrating certainly didn't stave off or soothe the nightmare when it came.
So why not?
2017 burned me down to rebuild in freedom. And from the spacious place God's led us to, I feel so certain that He is for CELEBRATION. God walked with me through fire. And He has been incredibly, lavishly, ridiculously gracious to me these past few months. To accept that with a cautious, sincere or even a hearty, "thank you" seems too cursory a response. I'm starting to wonder if the response that He might delight in most might be equally ridiculous.
I think about how sad I would be if Aidah accepted gifts from me the way I have historically received them from God. If she dutifully thanked me and then carefully put the toy to the side in case she was bored later. Or if she stopped playing with it every few seconds to glance over her shoulder, making sure I wasn’t going to take it back. But no – my girl knows how to celebrate. And it makes giving gifts to her such a delight – she tackles us and screams about how happy she is and then obsessively plays with her new toy for days.
I want to get on her level.
I don't want to walk away from 2017 with mere relief. I want to shout out this hard-won, fire-tested truth that I came stumbling out of the nightmare, clutching to my chest. And that's this:
Life is brutiful and it's too short to waste on realism. I want to be foolishly, frivolously celebratory. I want to dream laughable dreams. I want to let my hopes soar stupidly high. I want to scream about how happy I am and obsessively delight in my gifts.
This goes against everything in me. It sets off panic alarms BUT WHAT IF I CRASH AND BURN.
Well, I'd rather go down singing than saying smugly, "I knew it."
So, like King David says, "I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes."
I don’t know what 2018 holds for us. Probably a brutiful mix of lovely and difficult things. But I know how I plan to spend it: like a giddy fool who is trying to say THANK YOU with her very life. Out in the sunshine, eating too many donuts and throwing Olympics-viewing parties and giving money to every needy person who asks me and nerding out on science fiction and spoiling my girls and not cleaning enough and dancing furiously to the Moana soundtrack.
Like I said, I’m not a bandwagoner but…#newyearnewme
**As much as I would actually love to say we went as far as to #CELEBRATE with a photoshoot for this post alone, that would be a lie. This photo was taken a few years ago by Jared at Stop Go Love Film + Video for one of their promotions. If you're getting married in New England, look them up!