When I reflect upon 2012, & what it has meant to me, the words of one of Dickens’ most famous novels springs to mind: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”

These words pretty much sum up the year I have just lived through. Unbelievably, there were days when I felt all of these things in one single twenty-four hour period. An eternal optimist at heart, I always tried to push away the thoughts of despair & fear of the unknown, but there were days when they were just so overpowering that it was nearly an impossible feat. Through much prayer, introspection, & the encouragement of many friends, I was always, after a brief period of doubt, able to reclaim the promises for a hope & a future.

I recently made a post on one of my Facebook statuses lamenting the year I’ve just endured, & a friend reminded me that it was a “great year, because that is the year that we met.” She was SO RIGHT!!! For everything I lost this past year – my marriage, my home, & yes, a few “friends” (I think that TRUE friendship NEVER dies), I gained so much more!! In place of the handful of people that betrayed my trust, God sent me ten times more people that did not do so, but who lifted me up & supported me in my darkest hours instead. In place of the large, custom built house I once had, God sent me a cozy town house, which is infinitely more wonderful, because it contains only the possibility of joyous new memories, & none of the broken dreams that filled my old home. In place of uncertainty, He gave me a calm assurance that all will be well, if I but trust in Him, & believe it will be so. In place of people who chose to tear me down & try to make me doubt myself, God sent me angels that lifted me up & reminded me that I am stronger than I ever knew was possible.

I began 2012 filled with dread, feeling stuck in a process that I thought would never end; yet I am ending that same year secure in the knowledge that I DID make it through that dark, dark place. I survived the “cold winter of despair”, & now I expectantly await the “spring of hope” that lies just ahead.

This past year I saw a side of myself I’ve seldom seen before – the darker side that cried itself to sleep because of fear & doubt. The side that was on the verge of losing hope in human nature. The side that wanted to give up. The side that had to look into the mirror alone & face my own limitations, imperfections, & mortality. The side that was helpless to help myself.

At the same time, I saw, more clearly than ever before, the side of myself that was filled with light, & that was suddenly unafraid of facing whatever life had to offer. The side that was filled with belief that all would work out in the end. The side that refused to give up my trust in people, no matter how many of them disappointed me or stabbed me mercilessly in the back. The side that refused to quit. The side that looked into the mirror, & saw the shadow of One beside me that is limitless, perfect, & immortal, & who would help me get through it all. The side that had to allow the angels to help me when I was unable to help myself.

Two sides of one soul were open, exposed & bare for the whole world to see simultaneously. I also saw sides of people that I wish I never knew existed because they were so heartless, mean & uncaring. I saw sides of people that I never knew could exist in earthly form, because they were so very good, selfless, & caring. I realized that all people have the capacity to hate. I realized that all people have the capacity to love.

It’s not often that a person is forced to take such an intimate, introspective look at oneself, or at those around them. I know that I strove to reach out & help those around me that I perceived were in need of comforting. But I also know that there were times that I was so involved with just trying to survive the day that I may have overlooked someone that needed me, & for that I am truly sorry. I learned, too, though, that there is only so much that a human being can do in one day, & in one life time, & that the best thing one can do is to hope that, in the end, the reconciliation of the two sides of oneself will result in something that is positively noteworthy. Just as the two cities in Dicken’s tale struggles with oppression & hatred versus love & family, I think that each person has those same struggles. Hopefully, we will surround ourselves with those who are focused on the latter, rather than the former, mindful though, that, even the best of people will at times present their worst selves.

At the end of 2012, I pray that, in the coming year, I will see more of the good, & less of the bad in people. I pray that I will see only the optimistic side of life. I pray that I will always have time to lend that helping hand. I pray that I will present only that good, light, & honorable side of myself to other people, & to myself as well. I pray for freedom over oppression. I pray for love over hate.

I give thanks for all of the new friends that I made in 2012. I give thanks for the lessons learned this past year. I give thanks that I survived the worst of times. I give thanks that I did not break. I give thanks for the many blessings, both personal & professional, that were found in the middle of the hottest of flames. I give thanks for all of the laughter that I shared with people this past year –  I do believe that, despite it all, the laughs somehow miraculously exceeded the tears in 2012. I give thanks for the forgiveness that I feel toward those that meant me ill will. I give thanks for the acts of kindness that were bestowed upon me.

I give thanks for the opportunity to write these words, & I pray that they may encourage someone that is going through their own “worst of times.” Keep the faith: alongside the worst of times, can often be found the best of times, as well. You, dear reader, also have two sides of yourself, & in the darkest hours, you have only to look toward the side of yourself that possesses the good, for it is that side that will light your way to the end of the tunnel, where you will find hope waiting!

~ L.L.S.


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I am a Southern Belle, through and through. Born and raised in North Alabama, where my family settled in 1808, when the area was still the Mississippi Territory, I come from a line of Planters, Patriots, and Pioneers. They were people who were unafraid to take risks, who said what they believed, and who honored God and their Country. Like my ancestors before me, I have strong values, believing that the Golden Rule is indeed golden. I write as a way to relate and as a release. I hope that my words may inspire, challenge and provoke one to thinking about how extraordinary things can come out of ordinary places, people, and things.

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