As the clock turned to 2012, and the ball in New York dropped, a lyric from one of my favorite bands, immediately went off in my head: “So this is the New Year, and I don’t feel any different.”
But the funny thing is… I do feel totally different in January 2012 compared to January 2011.
The end of January 2011 I watched the beginning of the end of my mentor’s marriage. I’ve known him for well over a decade, served in his ministry for just as long—both volunteered and paid, lived with him and his family for a short time, and was blessed to be the first and only wedding he’s ever officiated. Needless to say, I’m very close to the whole family. This divorce wrenched my gut as bad as (if not worse than) my own parent’s split when I was young.
Shortly after the choice for divorce was made, the recession finally caught up with our large church. Every staff person had an individual meeting to find out their fate, and over 15 people were let go.
This happened right before we started our summer camp season—by far the busiest of the year for our church. The camps run one right after the other for 6 weeks straight. The divorce, layoffs, and hectic pace set off a chain reaction for the roughest summer I can remember.
Many people that were scheduled to help at our camps had been cut from the staff, leaving gaps in the camp workforce. This increased the burden—specifically on the youth department serving almost 600 students. We lacked communication, tempers flared, people were stressed beyond normal, and the camaraderie we had built over the 4 previous years was eroding.
August ushered in our normal annual staff retreat. We had been without a department head for 4 months, and survived with a handful of wounds. Finally a new leader was chosen, transitioned in, and we tried to resume normalcy. Then in December the leadership announced that we are eliminating our mid-week service (which has been going on for decades) to make room for small groups—church wide—in an 8,000-person church. You could probably say we are going through a bit of a culture shift.
Now it’s finally January, 2012. I am 28 years old and feel like I have just finished the most stressful, gut-wrenching year of my life, and I’m glad it’s all behind me. This is the new year.
So, four days ago my wife and I found out we’re going to be first-time parents!
The excitement is outweighing the shock, knowing my life is about to change in ways I can’t even imagine, and I can’t wait. I look at the year I’ve had, my 28 years of life, and I know God has prepared me for this moment. Obviously I don’t have it all figured out, and I’ve never been a dad before, but oddly enough I’m not afraid. God has brought my wife and me to this point, and will bless us with the wisdom to raise a child. What an amazing responsibility.
As I watched the ending of one family in January of 2011, I get to write about the beginning of a new family in January 2012. My family.
So this is the New Year.
And I feel totally different.
What is going to be different for you in 2012?