2016 – A Year in Review

Technically we’re still in the Christmas period, but now that the actual day has come and passed, most people are turning their attention to another big calendar event just around the corner: New Year. For me, New Year marks a time of deep reflection on the year just gone. This has been the case particularly these last couple of years, when my life has changed over what can often feel like very short periods of time.

This year was certainly no exception. If 2015 was the year in which my maturity came on by the most leaps and bounds yet, then 2016 was the year in which I gained a much clearer picture of what I want my life to look like than before. This was due to several ‘big’ things that happened:

  • I achieved the A-Level results I needed in order to study at my first-choice university next September. This did not come easily, and I had to throw all my effort into my revision, so it feels great to have reached this point.
  • I got to spend three weeks in Namibia with my family, my parents having worked there voluntarily for a couple of years before my brother and I were born. It was definitely an inspiring event for me, seeing for myself what my parents had been telling me about for years. (Here is a video I put together chronicling what we did there.)
  • I started living and working in a Christian community based in North Yorkshire, who have accepted me wholeheartedly in spite of all my flaws and have made it easy for me to feel like part of the family. (If you want to see more about what life here is like, check out their website and/or my other blog, Nat’s Tales from the Dales.) Even though I’ve only been at Scargill for three months, and I still have a lot to learn, I already feel very much at home here.

Seems like a pretty good year then, at least from my point of view. Yet we can’t talk about 2016 without addressing at least some of the bad things that happened in it. Between Donald Trump’s election as US President, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, a continued Islamic terror campaign and an unusually long list of celebrity deaths, there was a strong case for suggesting that this was one of the least pleasurable years of recent memory (see also: this subreddit). But as with all adversities, there were lessons to be learned.

For example, in early February I experienced loss for the first time, with the death of my aunt from ovarian cancer. Now, it’s true that her death was perhaps easier for my family to deal with than it could have been, because a) all her children had long since grown up and moved away from home, and b) she had been very sick for a while, so we knew this was likely to happen. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect us in a big way, though. I have to say, I gained quite a lot of respect for my dad after seeing how he dealt (and continues to deal) with his sister’s passing. That he kept a firm trust in God even when things didn’t seem to be working out really inspired me, and made my own faith slightly stronger in turn.

So it’s farewell to 2016, certainly a year of ups and downs. Will 2017 be any different? At least for me, it will. It’s both exciting and scary to think that this time next year, I’ll have started my degree, begun living with a whole new group of people in a different part of the country (albeit one closer to home) and may even have brand new commitments that will remain part of my life for years. I have a lot to look forward to in 2017, but even if it turns out to be the worst year of my life, I won’t ever be alone. All that’s left to do now is live it out and see what happens!

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