2013 in Review

2013 was relatively uneventful. There weren’t any big events. I had such little recollection of what happened in 2013 that I had to reference my Facebook timeline to write this.

It was primarily a year of enjoying my family at home, spending a lot of time thinking about and attempting to solve design challenges at work and trying to streamline processes at church. That really sums it up. Not exactly inspiring for a “year in review” recollection, but fairly accurate.

This past year was a year of internal struggle. I read, thought, planned, refined, and spent a lot of time generally contemplating the things that drive me forward. I think I needed a year like that, a year of rest, especially considering the year I had before this one.

2012 was a year of tectonic shifts.

I left my director job at AMC Networks, where I was commuting almost four hours a day to spend nearly all day in meetings with several large teams, for a VP position at Simply Recipes, where I work from home with no conference calls or meetings and a one person to report to. I took a 6 week sabbatical from my leadership position at Oxford Valley Chapel, during which several church leaders left with some strong criticism of the church and church leadership.

Funny how long it takes for the mind, body and soul to recover from big shifts like that.

You step into a new job like that, and you’re full of zeal, full of ideas, carrying habits and expectations (good and bad) from the previous job. You’re not quite sure what the workload will be or how the “office” relationships will work or what contribution you’ll be able to make to the company. After a while, though, you get a much clearer understanding of the pace of change, the unspoken expectations, the subtle nuances behind doing your job well.

And when a church goes through an upheaval like we experienced, it bears out long, unforeseen consequences that shapes the church corporately and a person individually. I’ve been really cognizant of some of the impact it had on me personally, some of the tendencies I’ve been drawn to in the wake of that upheaval. I tend to want to get less involved in people’s lives; there’s this nagging feeling that any investment made in someone’s life will just come back to haunt. There’s a tendency to feel a bit disconnected from decisions made in the church, since an experience like we went through seems to invariably become political and dredge up long email exchanges about who said what and when. It’s as if I have a greater awareness for the risk of making decisions and therefore want to avoid it at all costs. Paradoxically, I also find myself tending to be less trusting of people, afraid that the moment I shift my eyes away from any given situation, it might devolve into controversy. I’m hoping that identifying these tendencies will help me overcome them (because I recognize they are harmful).

However, 2013 didn’t really have any of those moments, at least none that come to mind.

The only thing that stands out in my mind as being “tumultuous” is the day I dropped my daughter on her head.

We had just spent a lovely day at the Middletown Grange Fair. We watched a farmer milk a cow. We perused all of the 4H craft projects. We watched construction vehicles perform a ballet. We braved the rickety rides. We ate deliciously unhealthy fair food.

We were just making the long trek back to the car, and I attempted to hoist Anna up so she could sit on my shoulders. As I placed her up over on my head, she kicked off my glasses and… I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but by reflex my hands reached out to grab the glasses that were flying through the air and Anna toppled backwards off my head.

I can’t believe how hard it is to write about this, even now!

Hearing the sickening thud of her head on the black asphalt, seeing her face contorted in that frightening grimace, feeling both afraid and confused and so angry at myself all at once—it all just remains a blurry moment in my mind, as if there was no timeline, it didn’t happen chronologically. I was just suddenly aware that she wasn’t on my shoulders, and then I was beside her in tears. I attempted to scoop her up into my arms, but several people pulled me back for fear she had broken her neck and I shouldn’t move her.

I didn’t know what to do, I was so helpless in that moment. Thankfully, other people around me, strangers I’d never met and don’t know now, sprung into action. And there I stood, the man whose reflexes failed him, the man who killed his daughter, paralyzed his daughter, flung his tiny daughter, so small, smaller than she looks, to the cruel ground for all the world to see.

I remember clutching my son against me. He was crying, and most people looking at us probably thought I was trying to comfort him, but he was my comfort, I was hiding behind him. Somewhere my wife asked for my daughter’s favorite blanket, which was in the van. I ran off to the van, jogging through the crowd of people who had heard about some sort of accident and were craning their necks to see what had happened. Who was this guy running through the crowd, paying no attention to the commotion, didn’t he realize someone was hurt? I played out scenarios as I ran. I never pictured her in a casket. I did picture Anna in a wheelchair, older, talking about the day Daddy dropped her.

But she wasn’t paralyzed. She hadn’t lost consciousness, hadn’t broken anything, didn’t have a concussion, didn’t even have a headache! After a few hours of observation in the emergency room the doctor just said, “Kids are flexible!”. And I said, “God is good!”

Writing that all down makes me feel like 2013 was, in fact, a tumultuous year. Maybe that’s why I spent the year doing little beside setting a record for the number of hugs I gave to my kids.

Not a bad way to spend a year.