I don’t know where to start. When you first came on the scene in January, you were like a cozy blanket by the fire, promising comfort from all the troubles and hardships of 2015. By the end, you were not a cozy blanket. You were more like cuddling with a feral cat by a dumpster on fire.
So many things happened. So many “I can’t EVEN” moments.
You were raw, 2016.
You were not about appearances. You lacked dignity and discernment. And you just kept going. Like a hidden alarm clock with the wrong station on full volume in the middle of the night. We couldn’t find you to turn you off.
You started innocently enough by taking one of our literary greats in Harper Lee. It was sad, but it wasn’t unjust. I’ll give you that. But we didn’t know you’d also take Nancy Reagan, Glenn Frey, John Glenn, Alan Rickman, Merle Haggard, Dave Mira, Muhammad Ali, Christina Grimmie, Pat Summit, Gary Marshall, Gary Shandling, Arnold Palmer, Leonard Cohen, Jose Fernandez, Zsa Zsa, George Michael and many more. You even took Carrie Fisher. But you weren’t done. You took Debbie Reynolds, Carrie’s mom, just a day after. A little on the nose, don’t you think?
And the election. Oh, the election.
You made it tough to turn on the T.V. or browse the Internet. You were in cahoots with 2015 to stage the biggest political upset in recent history—bringing in a reality star from another year and making him President. You got us. We didn’t see that coming.
There were some great stories that didn’t get a lot of attention though. Global Malaria deaths declined by 60 percent since 2000. World hunger reached its lowest point in 25 years. Homelessness is on the decline in the U.S. Those are all great markers.
And, to be fair, you did give us a fleeting ray of sunshine for a few spectacular moments. The Cubs. Pokemon Go! Rio. Phelps, Biles, Ledecky. That made us all smile.
But you ended it with Lochte-gate, and we quickly scratched our heads and spiraled out of control again.
And if the election season wasn’t tough enough—with all the locker room talk, email scandals and Russian hacking—you also uncovered old wounds and dug your thumb into them. More police shootings of black people and, in return, more shootings of police officers on duty. Transgender bathroom debates. Fake news. Fires. The dark and evil terror attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. ISIS attacks on Istanbul, Brussels, Nice. The rise of Christian persecution in Egypt, Iraq and India. The Syrian refugee crisis. The humanitarian tragedy of Aleppo.
Did you really need Zika? What were you trying to prove?
On a different note, you made us face our fears, our weaknesses and past sins. 2016, you were like one long intervention for humanity.
Seriously, I don’t remember a time in my life that I felt more connected with the world and its problems. You shook us and woke us up to suffering around the globe.
To our apathy and penchant for personal comfort.
You forced us to have tough conversations. To try and understand each other better. To see life as a precious gift that can be taken away so quickly. You forced us to look into the mirror and reckon with our own sins.
And, to be honest, maybe it’s a little hypocritical to blame everything on you.
2016, you’ve trashed our perfect Instagrammed lives and equipped us to deal with real issues, together. Eyes wide open.
In many ways, you reminded us that the problems in the world aren’t so much “out there” or “in them” but in every one of us.
And you reminded us that the solution to our problems isn’t winning an argument, or shouting down our enemies, but extending the radical grace of Christ to every human being in our path.
It could be easy for any of us to ask: Where was God in 2016? But I think God could just as easily ask: Where’s my church?
I pray that 2017 is our bold answer.
P.S. 2016, we’d still like for you to leave now.