Hi all, it’s time for my Christmas message, and as is usual, I’ve been in reflective mood as well as looking forwards.
This time last year, my Christmas Facebook status read as follows:
“And so this is Christmas. Looking through my timeline, I have friends going through intense times of joy through the arrival of new babies, and friends going through times of deep sorrow through the loss of a loved one. I have friends going through times of affluence and times of shortage. I have friends far off (like Simon and Karen in Sydney, and Jon and Emma in Texas) and friends nearby. My Facebook life is so rich and varied, and to ALL of you – have a happy, peaceful Christmas full of joy, laughter, happiness and friendship.”
This has been so true this year – reflected time and again in the lives of myself and everyone close to me. My year started out with a return to work after being off for a period through ill health – a combination of thyroid problems and what my GP described as ‘moderate to severe depression’, a diagnosis that had knocked me for six. Getting back into the routine of work was tough, and was made even tougher a few months later when the spectre of redundancy raised its head once again.
Finding myself out of work, with a home and family to support and a job to find, proved a challenge in more ways than one. However, I can now look back on that time as a real turning point. If the redundancy had come the previous year, I have no doubt my reaction would have been very different. However, with the experience of past and current depression hanging over me, it made me determined to learn from the path this year had taken, and not to let situations dictate who I was and how I would behave.
Having a faith in God helped to solidify this resolve – I was repeatedly reminded of my status and my worth, through prayer, Bible verses, and by my friends within my church. And whilst the days and weeks passed by with little or no action, I really didn’t feel under any stress about the situation, because I knew that there was a plan and a strategy going on.
At the end of August, I was offered two jobs – either of which I would have been happy to accept, but after some thought and prayer, chose the one with less commute, more flexibility, and with a larger company. And it’s really been a decision proved correct every day. The job has been great, working with some good people, and having the flexibility of working closer to home means that I’m back at a reasonable time, and not wasting a couple of hours a day driving.
Contrasting the start of the year to the finish, a lot of things have been turned around, for which I am very grateful. Not just for me, but for others around me as well. A very good friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, and there was a time (as always) when nobody knew what the outcome would be. Today he’s at home recovering from a very successful operation, completely clear of cancerous cells and looking forward to a Christmas and new year filled with laughter, love and excitement. My brothers are both working and enjoying life. My sister got married at the end of November, and is currently on an extended honeymoon. My family are happy, well, and looking forward to a wonderful Christmas. And my band Riser are preparing for Christmas Eve, where we are back at our favourite pub to play some great tunes and have some festive fun.
I wanted to write this, rather than just post a standard ‘Happy Christmas’ message, to show that life isn’t always smooth, some times the roller coaster goes up and down a bit quicker than is comfortable, but it isn’t what life throws at you that matters, it’s what you allow to stick. Choose what to allow into your life and what to shrug off, and enjoy the Christmas season.
May the joy and peace of Christmas, the warmth and love of family and friends, and the happiness of the season be with all of my friends and all who read this message, over the coming weeks and throughout 2014.