2012: Reflections on a Year

As another year draws to a close, it's seemingly inevitable that we begin reflecting back on the events of the past twelve months. We can't help ourselves. There's something in our wiring that sees the 31st of December creeping closer on the calendar and launches us at the rear-view mirror with an accusatory glare and a fistful of questions: "Did you keep your resolutions? Did you grab every opportunity with both hands? Did you contribute anything to society? Did you live a life that justifies your place on the earth this year?!"

It's been a pretty mammoth year for us here in the U.K and between the Jubilee, the Olympics and the Paralympics, we seem to have spent much of the last twelve months fixated on our t.v. screens, weeping and celebrating the successes of other people. But what about my year? Has my year been one worth celebrating, or just one to be wept over?

Well, without wishing to blow my own trumpet, I feel like 2012 was a pretty mammoth year for me too. Not in any outward way, particularly - I didn't run with any torches or bring any gold medals home - but more in inward ways.. small ways.. in my own personal achievements that no one else would really recognise.

2012 has been a year of real change - some of it bad, but with plenty of good to make up for it. It's been a year where some of my closest friends seem to have drifted oceans away, but a year where new friends have stepped in and old friendships have grown stronger in their place. It's been a year where the church that always felt like home began to feel anything but, but a year where new fellowships and worshiping communities rose up instead. It's been a year where I've felt the real discomfort of mental and emotional growing pains, but a year where I've experienced the joy of their fulfillment too.

It's been a good ole year, 2012.

2012 was the year in which I finally mustered up the confidence to sit - and pass - my driving test, and even though I still don't enjoy driving (and probably never will), it feels like an accomplishment every single time I manage to take control of that giant metal beast and arrive somewhere safely in one piece.

2012 was the year in which I finally stopped thinking about that Open University course and went ahead and signed up for it, and even though it's hard (and sometimes boring) and I still get really panicked by the pressure of someone judging my work, it's been good to be challenged and pushed and deliberately engaged in a learning process again.

2012 was the year in which I finally got a job doing something I love - leaving the shelves of Asda to spend my time working with children and young people. It's been a year that's really confirmed the painful decisions I had to make in the past - the opportunities I turned down because they felt like the wrong thing - and validated everything I was being taught about patience and trust.    

Those are the obvious things about 2012 - the things that anyone looking from the outside would be equally equipped to tell you about - and they've all been brilliant in their own way. But at the end of the year, when I look back, it's not these big things that have mattered most. It's the littlest, everyday things that have made the biggest impact this year.

It's the little, baby steps that have mounted up to the longest journey. Every talk I gave on a Sunday morning; every school assembly I led; every time I managed to speak up at a meeting; every time I walked into a room full of strangers; every time I woke up in the morning feeling that I had nothing to offer the world, but made myself get out of bed anyway.. they've all mounted up to a better outlook on the world and, if I'm honest, a better understanding of myself. Psychological theories (like CBT, or whatever) say that these things should get easier every time I do them - that the fear should decrease a little every time - and since I've done many of these things on multiple occassions every week, I'd like to be able to say that the fear is gone. It's not. That dark cloud of anxiety that looms over my head for days before any of these things is not any lighter than it was before, but I don't let it cripple me anymore and that is change enough!

This year I've learned to say, "Yes!" first and worry later; and rather than talking myself out of every situation, I've learned to shut up, face it and accept the consequences, however good or bad they might be. And as a result, I've gained a little bit more trust in my own abilities, and far greater level of trust in God to sustain me.

Driving and studying and having a job is great, but it's those tiny little daily achievements that I'll treasure the most this year. What they've all amounted to is this: rather than entering the next year with fear and worry looming over me, I find myself looking forward with excitement and expectation as to what the future might bring.. and that's a pretty good place to be!

Other highlights of the last year included a trip to London with friends; 177 kids rocking up to our holiday club; paying a visit to my old church in Prestwick; seeing Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Nina Nesbitt and Florence + the Machine in concert; and finding out that I'm going to be an auntie for the first time!

It's been a good year - one I'll look back on fondly - but I'm more than ready to see what 2013 has to offer!

How was 2012 for you? However it was, I hope that 2013 is even better.
Grab it with both hands and pull the life out of every second and I'm sure that we'll all be blessed.

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  1. Well done Laura, you are a star, 2013 can only get even better!x

    1. Here's hoping! All the best for the year to come xo

  2. Happy new year, Laura! I hope life gets better and better in 2013.

    1. Thank you! And the same to you too. Best wishes xo

  3. Dear Laura,
    I read your reflective post with such interest. It seems as if you have done a lot of growing this past year! I think you're quite right to prize the little things. And as for feeling anxious, I can tell you for certain that the most experienced teachers I know continue to have the same old teaching-while-naked anxiety dreams before the start of term. I think we humans are almost hard-wired for worry sometimes?

    I wish you many joys in 2013. Thanks for your varied and interesting blog, and for your lovely comments on my blog. x