So, This Is New Year’s And What Have You Done?

So, This is New Year’s And What Have You Done?

One of my favorite Christmas songs is from John Lennon, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”. As a rule, I detest the “Xmas” people use instead of “Christmas” because I feel it demeans what the holiday stands is and its true meaning.

Yet despite the title, the song has always resonated deeply with me.

Although designed to be a protest song against the Vietnam War, I think what I find most meaningful in the song is summed up in the first few lines: “So this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over and a new one begun”.

The words are incredibly powerful in their simplicity.

As we head into 2022 this song has been playing in my head: what have I done this year and what will next year bring? Somehow, 2021 seems like an awful lot to contemplate, doesn’t it? Whether it is the pandemic, politics, personal losses, or gains, as we end one year and begin a new one, what lessons are you going to carry with you?

I am going to share a lesson from November that I am still trying to process. The message is to listen to your heart wherever God leads you.

I previously wrote about reaching out to an old friend I had not been in contact with very much over the past decade. From the ages of fifteen to twenty-two we were inseparable, going somewhere, doing something, having fun together. We spent hours on the phone, going out, eating, shopping, eating more, and sharing adventures together. We were two Jersey girls who loved life, enjoyed New York City, and shared the joy of being young. Thanks to her, my late teen years and entrée into adulthood was fun and memorable.

Her birthday was in early November, and I decided to send her a blank card, writing in my personal birthday greetings. Her parents had passed during the time we were out of touch; I extended my sympathies and apologies for not being there for her. I loved her parents; they were devoted to their family and were genuinely good and kind people.

I also thanked her for some kind words of advice she had given me decades ago, that was to never give up on writing. I always wanted to become a writer, but life had other plans. I thanked her for her encouragement, telling her that I still carried her words with me. I told her she mattered and if she did not get back to me, that was okay.

I sent the card because I felt almost compelled to do so, as if God was telling me this is important. Instead of overthinking it as I normally would, I sent it with gratitude and thanks for her friendship.

Her brother phoned me the day after Thanksgiving to tell me she had passed away Thanksgiving night after battling lymphoma for eleven months. My card arrived while she was nearing her end in the hospital; he read it to her as she lay in her hospital bed, drifting in and out of consciousness.

Of all the responses I had anticipated, that was not one I had even considered.

I began to cry as he spoke and as I type this weeks later, I am still crying over the loss and how poignant this moment is for me. Her death is an unexpected hurt that I am slowly coming to terms with. I will always be grateful for her presence in my life and all the wonderful time we shared together. I would not have become the person I am without her friendship.

But we had not been in touch for years. I did not know she was ill and more than anything, that bothers me.

Did I fail my friend? In some ways, yes, I did.

I should have known she was sick, and I certainly should have been there for her. I will come to terms with this, and I am allowing myself grace and time to do so.

I cannot go back and change what happened and I know that. In the end, I am grateful that God nudged me to reach out to her. I cannot say how much of what I wrote she was able to comprehend, but my sincere hope is that she somehow heard and understood my words.

I listened to my heart and while I missed out on helping her through her illness, at least I can find comfort in the knowledge that in some way she knows that she will always be with me.

As a Christian who has often been quietly focused on my faith, I think that the question from John Lennon’s song is one I try to reflect on regularly. Even more so this year after learning of my friend’s death, I am viewing Lennon’s question through the lens of the new year and asking myself what I have done?

And for once, even with my friend’s untimely passing, I can unequivocally answer a great deal.

While I wish I had been in touch with my friend, the truth is that 2021 will be the year I found inner peace. I came to terms with a lot of events from the past few decades: recovering from the demise of my marriage to no longer hiding being from people that I am chronically ill. From embracing moving far from home and starting a completely new life. From viewing my life choices through a negative lens to seeing I am imperfectly perfect in God’s eyes.

I found my peace despite the pandemic, which is a true gift.

This year was the one when I finally realized that the life I had anticipated did not, nor would happen. Instead, I recognized God had other plans for me and whether I liked it or not, whether I agreed with him or not, I had to trust.

This was the year that I dug deep into my faith. I began my own Bible study and I rearranged how I viewed my place in this world.

And much as my friend predicted, I began to finally write.

Some years we are in a growing season, which often translates into a period of sorrow and disarray. Been there, done that. Sure, it will come again, but for now, I am going to embrace the joy of exactly where and who I am in this moment.

I am going to write and create. I intend to travel, eat, and enjoy this life as best as I can. I am going to dress fabulously and life equally well.

And I am going to take my dear friend with me in my heart.

Your life may not be what you expected, but that does not devalue or diminish it. You are perfectly imperfect, and it is time to put any past hurts aside and get out and live. You are worth all of that and more.

Happy New Year to all.

Lean in and listen to your heart and God’s guidance. Let’s meet again next year to ask one another again what have we done.

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Dolores Pfeuffer-Scherer

Dolores Pfeuffer-Scherer

Writer, speaker, professor. Scleroderma Warrior Princess. History nerd (PhD in History). Adopter of shelter pets. I love cake. I mean really love cake.