2007 was a great year of both highs and lows. Thankfully more of the former and less of the latter.
Looking ahead I am excited about the new year. I have lost nearly 80 pounds on Jenny Craig, and I look and feel great. My daughter is happy and thriving, my job is steady and rewarding. My wife's company is in a bit of trouble with the writers strike upon us, but I am confident that if her employment ends, she will have only a short time before she can bring her skills to bear at a new job of comparable pay and benefits.
I truly feel things are just getting better and better, despite the day to day challenges we face.
The airport soundproofing crew is coming to our house at 730am on January 15th. My father-in-law will be staying with us to oversee their work at installing all brand new windows, doors and central air/heat. Should be great, all at no cost to us. (That's our tax dollars at work people!) I am thrilled at the prospect of quieter evenings and added value to our home in a market that is a bit scary these days.
I am scheduled to go to China in March. God willing it will be as safe as it will be exciting; traveling with my work is always an adventure. I'm giddy at the prospect, yet also mindful of the realities of overseas travel, especially to a country that is for all intents and purposes - evil.
After my return, I plan to ask for a big raise (long story, I'm underpaid, but though very appreciated, the money is not quite enough - it's time to get more). Failing an increase in income, I plan to for the first time seriously seek out employment elsewhere. It may take a long time, I need a full time gig with benefits; but I am truly committed to bringing my pretty formidable skill set up to the level of pay and challenge it deserves. Of course, a lot of this will hinge on my wife's situation as well, but I've put it in God's hands to see us through what promises to be a year of very big changes.
A big part of what has allowed me to see this last challenging year as a true triumph, and to be optimistic about the new one, is a fairly recent surge in my faith. Over the past few years the subconscious trust I've had in a higher power has slowly but dramatically manifested itself in my heart.
It's very hard to put into words, but somehow, with all the abject horror that this world can bring - and all of the terror that seeps into my mind late at night (when I think about the many possible fates of my family and friends), I have a true belief that we are all in the Lord's hands. No matter the agony that the future brings, and it WILL bring agony, I can somehow weather the storm with God's guidance.
I don't go to church, and I don't hold organized religion in very high regard, but I have been an indirect witness to the teachings of Jesus through my work; on various Bible related projects, and all of that partial exposure to his teachings has given my spirit a courage that I've never known before.
It was sparked off when I saw the Pope at the Vatican. Even to this day I loathe the Catholic Church as an organization. Any group of people that shields child rapists isn't exactly number one in my book. But when John Paul II came into the large arena, I don't know if it was the energy of the crowd or truly the Holy Spirit, but my body was wracked with energy and I found myself quietly crying uncontrollably behind my cameras viewfinder. It was the "proof" that I've searched for all my life. Or was it? Doubts lingered.
Over the next couple of years, bit by bit, little by little I began to see clearly. A segment I cut for the American Bible Society show that we help produce featured a "Christian Tattoo Artist". It was a nice piece with a nice message, but it was a single sentence that cut me to my core. When asked how he got non-believers to be comfortable and open minded in his tattoo shop, the owner said "Someone once told me, preach the Gospel as much as you can; and when absolutely necessary, use words."
This really had an impact on me. I am convinced that the very best way, for people to take Christ (or simply the love of God) into their hearts is to see it plainly existing in the day to day lives of believers. Not from proselytizing, not from Bible thumping. But from THE ACTIONS, the simple love and kindness of those who have Him in their hearts. It seems to me very clear that if we are to love our enemies, and truly turn the other cheek - that our ONLY chance of spreading God's love -and honestly I think whether it's Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Ganesha or Buddha, it makes ultimately no difference - is to LIVE that love and NOT force it by judgment or reprimand.
My whole life, people have told me about God and his son, and it all sounded good to me. Looking back, I think on that day in the Vatican I was confronted with a force beyond my understanding. But who knows really. What's important is that the real revelation came to me just recently. I've slowly realized; that whether this event was real or imagined by me does not matter.
The faith inside me IS real, it's growing and it sustains me through moments of anguish and doubt. Some day I may go to Church, it sounds like it might be nice to worship among like minded people; but right now it seems kind of unnecessary. God is with me, I feel him/her/it every day. I see the face of God's love in my little girl.
Don't misunderstand. I know in my heart that there are no easy answers, and that part of God's greatest gift to us is free will; we live at our own peril on a day to day basis. I understand this. Yet something tugs at my soul and tells me to be a good person, to have faith, and all will be done as He wills it. And without having the words to truly express it, the best I can say is that everything will be okay - even if it's not.
I wish everyone the safest and happiest New Year.