As I begin to close the book on 2018, I think about the ways this year could have gone differently.
When I was younger, I was a huge fan of the Choose Your Own Adventure type of books where you were given choices for the lead character to take. One choice would take you to a different page in the book and a different outcome for the story. It was a game for me to try to make it through a book without making a choice that would lead to the character’s misfortune or death. The funny thing is in these adventure books there were multiple ways for the character to die, but maybe only one or two ways for them to achieve a satisfying conclusion. (It’s rigged, I tell ya!)
In real life, outcomes are a bit more gray instead of starkly black and white. Decisions can lead to surprising twists that were never foreshadowed. You can also not make any decisions and let life take you along for a ride, or stay in a holding pattern. Also, things can swing from melodrama to comedy to suspense — real life doesn’t have a genre.
Maybe the biggest difference between these books and life is that our lived time only flows in one direction: forward. You can’t take things back, not without difficulty. All you can do is move forward and try to make better decisions. Also, unlike the books, you can’t flip forward a few pages to find out if the choice you’re making will benefit or harm you. The ending is unknown.
This year I think I made the best choices I could regarding my health and wellness. Other things were not up to me, but I’m certainly ending the year in better shape than I started it. I’m healthier, happier, and my life is rich with friends, family, and fulfilling pursuits. I like how this year’s Choose-Your-Own-Adventure turned out.
But I’m still excited about turning the pages of my life’s book. I honestly believe that unlike a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book, there are more good endings than there are bad ones. We certainly have greater agency than fictional characters in creating those good outcomes, and of course we have a God who wants what’s best for us. And that’s what gives me hope that every year will turn out better than the last.