Actually leaving 2012 behind, mentally and emotionally, will be a challenge for many people to face starting when they wake up tomorrow morning. I can't think of anything to write in this column that would apply across the board to everyone, but one thing I am sure of is that there are many people who are unalterably committed to their Christian faith, and yet have failed their own standards in one way or another.
One very painful failing--one that I know from personal experience--is the profound and continuing disappointment of divorce. This year thousands of people who were sure that they were making a life commitment to a marital partner are finding that they were wrong. If they are angry or hurt, they may not be able to face where it was their fault, but sooner or later we stop dwelling on the faults of the other and allow the withering light of reality to illuminate our own lives.
The painful realization that divorce is going to happen, or already has, despite our best intentions, is a bitter reflection on New Year's Eve. Glib talk and clichés aren't going to help a lot. It isn't the shock of other people, it isn't the teachings of our churches that gives us this sinking feeling. It is the simple, sickening fact that we have failed ourselves; we have failed the standards that we set for our own conduct and judgment.
This is a phase that we all pass through on the way to starting over. It is similar in many ways to a death in the family. Time must be spent in grieving, then adjusting, and finally to the new beginnings.
Futurists--there is such a profession--teach that despair and depression come from living in a state of mind that cannot see a happy future. That is indeed a very dangerous state to live in, and the exact answer to this frightening period in life is faith. Suppose you cannot foresee a time when you will ever be happy again. You must believe, or have faith that, someday you will be in a better place.
That is the real lesson of Jesus' life and death: sometimes your life falls apart, even unto death itself. Sometimes they get away with it; sometimes the bad guy walks away with the prize and leaves you gasping in the dust. That's what happened to Jesus, and "they all forsook him and fled." But even though we may not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, we can all believe that in some way we can regroup and start over. It can and will get better.
I honestly don't see any other way to get through despair and depression; the whole reason that you are despairing and depressed is that you can't see the way forward. But if you reach out to people you know--the right ones, please--there are many to tell you that even if you can't see it, there is a morning after.
As we go to sleep tonight worried about our future, whether it is personal or professional, whether you are worried about yourself or our country or your family--or all of the above--please remember this: you are never less alone than when you are alone. Can you whisper this prayer just before you fall asleep?
"The light of God rests upon me,
The love of God surrounds me,
The power of God protects me.
Wherever I am, God is.
"Keep watch, oh God, with those who work,
Or watch, or weep this night,
And give your holy angels charge over them who sleep.
"Tend the sick, Lord Christ;
Give rest to the weary, receive the dying,
Soothe the suffering, comfort the afflicted,
And shield the joyous, and all in the name of your love.
"Oh God, through the long watches of the night,
May your holy angels spread their white wings above me,
Watching round my bed. Amen."
Happy New Year. Believe in it. It hasn't reached Tucson yet, but the New Year has begun on the other side of the world. It is coming to Tucson in a few hours.
For more info: email me at LiberalChristianExaminer@gmail.com if you wish. I am always happy for the privilege of helping someone along.