2018 in Review

I thought for sure I had done one of these year in review posts at the end of 2017. In fact, I thought I’d done something similar every year on this blog. But that’s not the case. No, I only did a year in review post at the end of 2016.

When I looked back at that 2016 in Review post, I realize exactly why I’d written in. Because, for a lot of people, 2016 was a really crappy year. And, at the time, I was pretty tired of hearing all the negatives that people were ready to leave behind as they entered 2017. So my intention was to point out some of the positive things that actually happened throughout the year and to encourage everyone to focus on those as they moved into 2017.

As I thought about writing about 2018, I realized I couldn’t do that with the same optimistic mindset that I had two years ago. And when I saw that I never wrote anything for 2017 last year, I thought that would be an easy way to let myself off the hook for writing this thing. But I’m not going to take the easy way out. I’m going to do this. And if it turns out sounding negative, well… maybe I can turn it around before we get to the end.

Much like two years ago, I know that a lot of people had a pretty bad year. I dare say that many out there had a worse year than me. And I do think that I had a fairly bad 2018. But I say that looking at the year through selfish eyes that only saw or experienced my stress, my pain, my fears, my doubts. Realistically, I’m aware that it’s a much larger world and there were much bigger stresses, pains, fears, and doubts that plagued humanity.

But I can’t sit here and speak for all of humanity. I can only tell you about my year. This is my blog. This is my therapy session. Start taking notes, Doc.

Honestly, it started out okay for me. Life was chugging along and I can genuinely say that I was happy. I was in a job that I loved, living in a town that I loved, and actually enjoying something of a social life with friends who I’d come to think of more as family.

Things were so good that I even allowed myself to become vulnerable enough to ask a girl out on a date. That’s something I only do about once every three years, so it was actually a bigger deal for me than I let on. The date went fine, I thought. The aftermath, not so much. You can read all about that here if you feel like indulging a past pity party.

Then we got to June. And that’s when my year took a nosedive. Because that’s when I was informed that, as of the beginning of 2019, my position would no longer exist in the budget. As I sat in my mid-year review with the pastor and children’s minister, they dropped this bombshell on me.

You know how you have those moments where you know the world is still spinning and life is continuing on like nothing is wrong, but everything in your field of vision kind of goes dark and all the sound you hear is kind of muted? That’s what was happening to me in that moment. Oh, and the nausea. So much nausea.

Here I was in this job that I loved, finding out that in six months, ready or not, I wouldn’t have anymore. I know that there was constructive criticism regarding my job performance which played into the decision to eliminate my position, but all I heard at the time was I’m actually no good at my job. I know that it was difficult for my pastor, my friend, to deliver this news to me, but all I could think of was that scene where Bob Sugar took Jerry Maguire out to lunch just to fire him.

It was hard for him to give me the news. And I know that he, in no way, intended for me to believe that I wasn’t any good at my job. But that’s the thing about perception. We live in the world as we perceive it to be.

So my next few months, for better or worse, had this looming shadow. I entered into a state of depression that I refused to acknowledge. I attempted to go on as if nothing was wrong, even though I knew it was very wrong. I lost all faith in myself to adequately perform any of my job functions. I second guessed every single task I attempted to accomplish.

I didn’t start looking for a new job right away. I knew I pretty much had until the end of the year, so I wasn’t in a huge hurry. After all, I still loved my job and the people with whom I worked, right?

Eventually my lack of confidence began getting to me and around September I began the job search. I wanted to find something similar to what I’d been doing for the last two years, but I really wasn’t having any luck. I didn’t want to go back to counseling, which I’d done for four years prior to getting on board with the church. I felt like that was taking a step backwards. Funny how life works out.

Around the same time, it became obvious that my living situation would need to change. Quickly. Looking for a job and a new place to live are two very stressful events in a person’s life. It’s rough when they have to happen at the same time. Financially, I didn’t have a lot of options.

Here’s something you might not be aware of… When you work for a church, unless you’re scamming congregants into buying you a seventh private jet, you don’t make a lot of money. So my situation was that I had been in a job that didn’t pay much for the previous two years. This was okay, though, because I loved the work and the money wasn’t an issue. In part, too, because I was living in a house owned by the church for zero rent. Suddenly I needed to find a place where I would likely need to pay rent with money I just didn’t have.

I really hate this negative crap. I’m looking back at it and I’m so tempted to delete it all. But I’m not. Because it’s what I felt. It’s what I went through. And it’s okay, because I’m on the other side of it with a slightly different perspective now.

During those shadowy months, I lost all kinds of faith. Not just in myself. In my friends. In my church. Even in God. It was so easy to allow my mind to go there with that what did I do to deserve this? mentality. I’m sure I could make a list of all the things I’ve done to deserve that and so much worse.

Not to get all preachy on you, but God is good. God is faithful. Even when I’m not. Even when I refuse to be. Because so many things have fallen into place that I never could have planned for.

I’m back in counseling. I know I didn’t want to go back to the job that I thought I’d left behind. I wanted to stick with something in marketing (even though, at the time, I still only heard everyone telling me I sucked at it). But the company I left made it way worth my while to come back. I was placed in a school that I’m actually growing to love a little. It’s a hard job, but I’ve learned that I’m actually pretty good at it.

I was blessed with a temporary housing situation when a friend from church stepped up and allowed me to move in to a spare room he had for next to nothing. I feel like I’m mooching off of him, but I am so grateful that he allowed me to have the opportunity to get on my feet while I get adjusted to my new/old job. And, sure, it’s temporary, as is my next move coming up at the end of the month. I don’t know where I’ll be living when we get to July this year. But I can honestly say that I believe God has a plan for me.

See, I may have been blindsided on that day in June. But God wasn’t. He knew what was going on. I may have made plans to stay in that job ’til the day I died, but God knew better.

Do I think that I’m 100% in a healthy place spiritually or mentally? Not at all. In leaving the church staff but continuing to attend the church, I have really struggled with my place in everything. I’ve struggled with where I fit in and with whom I fit in. Part of that, I’m sure, is introversion and a natural inclination to put up walls all over again. Part of it, I’m surer, is latent depression that I still refuse to acknowledge.

I’ll get there. And while I can’t say that I’m excited about whatever 2019 will bring (because I so rarely get excited about anything, really), I am much more prepared to face it head on than I was a year ago. I got complacent in 2018. And when things got shaken up, I got shook.

Not this time, kids.

On a completely unrelated note… Do you want the chance to meet other bloggers and expand your blogging sphere of influence? Head over to The Captain’s Speech to check out Paul’s post today. It’s really an invitation to share your blog with other bloggers, giving you a chance to see what other folks out there are doing! Have fun with it!

5 thoughts on “2018 in Review

  1. Ohh I remember the 2016 year in review posts. That was the year a bunch of famous people died and we had to remind people that just because they lost their idol, didn’t mean that had a bad year personally.

    I think me and you are a lot alike in that once we get settled with something, we can be comfortable and have fun, but it’s those times where we’re in limbo and don’t know what’s going to happen that are the hardest because it means we have to put ourselves out there all over again and that’s hard. All the best to you this year!

    Thanks for sharing my post at the end!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Aaron, you and me both. We both lost our jobs at the same time. It came with so many unexpected problems 😦 I’m so glad both us had faith though. It looks like you found a new opportunity, and I’m working hard to find mine! Happy new year my friend, here’s to 2019 which will be way better for us!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a believer in the universe, and I think that there’s this master plan out there for us. And sometimes we have to go through some really bad stuff before the good stuff happens. You learn a lot about yourself during that time, and then once things start to turn around, you feel better. I’m hoping that 2019 is much better to you, and that you’re able to get back on your feet. I’m also an introvert, and sometimes you have to reach out to others for help or an ear to listen. You can’t fight the battle alone and having a support system can help.

    Liked by 1 person

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