I've attended more funerals in the last few years than I have in my entire life. I've watched relationships break apart, watched people break apart with the turmoil and loss in their lives. I know what it feels like to be unemployed; I know what it feels like to feel uncertain about the job I do have. Visits to the doctor and the auto repair shop have gone from rarity to routine. I am acutely aware of how dangerous it can be to drive on some of the roads I frequent. I have become so attuned to the regrets and pains and fears of this life that it seems impossible, or at least irresponsible, to tune them out. I can hardly spend money anymore without thinking of how many people might starve to death tomorrow because I wanted to go out for steak, or how every tiny purchase of "just a couple bucks" is ultimately keeping me from saving up for anything I truly want or need. I don't get more than mildly excited about new movies and video games anymore, because past experience has taught me that I'm likely to be disappointed if I expect anyone from the current generation of filmmakers and developers to deliver anything worth getting excited over. I'm too jaded and preoccupied to be the happy, carefree kid I used to be.
What's liberating about being a Christian is the reassurance that I don't need to worry about this life. I could quote scripture about learning to be content in all circumstances and trusting that all my needs will be met, but I try not to preach what I don't always practice. I've learned to be self-sufficient, and it's often a challenge to let go of that need to be the one in control, even when it's a matter that's clearly beyond my control. I have no doubt that I'd be happier to accept things as they happen and make the most of every situation, good or bad...but at heart, I'm too much of an idealist to "go with the flow" when I think things should be different or should be up to me to change.
What do I do, then? Compromise my idealism? I tried that recently, and the only way to live with myself has been to stop caring altogether. "Insensitive, standardless, but happy" isn't really what I'm going for here. I want to have the kind of faith and confidence that's resistant to worry. I need to be proved wrong every once in a while when I start making assumptions about how bad things are or will be. I ought to spend more time with the people and activities that recharge my positive outlook. I can still recognize and process sadness, anxiety, and failure, but I can satisfy that desire for control by doing everything in my power to ensure those feelings don't overtake the happiness in my life. I wager it's just as unhealthy to let something repress your happiness as it is to let something repress the negative feelings that need some room inside you to breathe.
I think that's my big resolution for the New Year: rediscovering the kind of lasting and vibrant happiness I used to enjoy.