A new year can be deceiving. It comes with this idea of a fresh start, but the start of another day with a different name doesn’t erase what happened the weeks before.
During our first Monday drop-in of the year, I sat down at a table to join a group for lunch. As we chatted, I caught up on what went on in Parkdale over the holidays. It was a difficult conversation because a long list of names came up of how many people, friends, and family passed away in December. The hard truth I discovered is that the holidays are extra tough on the community.
Christmas songs and stories promise the joy of gifts, family, parties, laugher, etc. but that is not everyone’s reality. Instead, Christmas can put pressure on people, saying that it’ll be amazing, but that is a situation set up for a let down. Even I find myself stressed on the day of, worrying that it won’t be as good as it ‘should’.
To be honest, this year has started off feeling very heavy. I have been grappling with this idea of how to spend my time properly- how to spend it intentionally. It’s been a thought I’ve struggled with all my life in asking how can I be wise about my days? School used to fill my time, but now that I am ‘released’ into the world, I’m feeling that common post-grad struggle of “what do I do now?” and “how do I adult?” and “how do I live happily ever after?”
It often feels as though movies (especially Disney) come to this conclusion that your happiness is what matters the most. This idea was something I couldn’t agree with, and I’ve always been kind of mad about it. When life gets difficult, it causes a panic in people. Everything sad becomes sadder when your happiness is what matters the most in life.
It is comforting to know that I don’t need to always wonder what matters most, for it is explained in Matthew 22:36-39. Jesus says that the most important commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” and that the second one is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Now, to my understanding, the Bible never mentions the importance of happiness for our gain, but instead throughout scripture I’ve found countless verses about rejoicing in who the Lord is.
Loving God and loving others can come with sadness, and I am learning to say “that’s ok”. I have only been at The Dale for about two months now, but regardless I have heard many stories of hurt and hardship, and though they make me sad, it is more important to walk alongside friends in love through it all, rather than searching for my own happiness.
There is one friend at The Dale, who mentions almost everyday that he is sad. I know that I cannot fix that, but what I can do is love him. I know that I cannot change the fact that many are dealing with the loss of loved ones right now, but I can love them. I know that God loves me unconditionally, so I can love others.