Getting bad news is - well - BAD. Last year it seemed like just about every week I learned of something difficult a loved one was facing or painful losses others had endured. Sometimes it feels like the best choice is to hide in the house and not answer the phone or turn on the Internet. Unfortunately (like those big, dumb ostriches) trying to shut out the tragic and threatening events surrounding us does work. Not knowing isn't the same as making bad things unhappen.

A better approach is to acknowledge that we will be smacked with sadness, challenges and terrifying prospects again this year. Hope that didn't burst your "Happy New Year" bubble, but as much as we may "wish for a great year" these things are simply a part of the package of life. It would be ridiculous (if not delusional) to actually begin 2011 believing or hoping otherwise.

Stay with me, this isn't the downer message it appears at first glance. I'm heading up to the good news. Just because we will walk through the tough stuff again and again does not mean that this won't be a good year. In fact, if you're brutally honest, can you say (especially in retrospect) that any year has been so awful that you'd willingly erase it? When you take the time to recall what you learned, the relationship that deepened, the growth of character and the enhancement of faith, would you really give that painful or difficult year away?

The year my mom died was really painful. Learning to live without her in my life is a process I'm still working on six years later. But I got to spend more time with my sister than I had since we were kids. We talked, laughed, shared memories and mutually offered support. I also (by necessity) slowed down and put more time and intent into the relationship with my mom in her last few months. I am not willing to give those good things up, even though they came with a heavy price.

When my marriage was going through a precarious time, I was fearful and unhappy. It was like I was speaking Chinese and my husband was speaking Spanish. We were never quite on the same page, making sense or connecting. But when things turned around we forged a bond that will never be broken apart again. As a result, we are able to encourage other couples who are struggling. Difficult, but still I wouldn't exchange it for something else.

As you ponder last year's hurts and roadblocks, look past them to what God showed you or where you ended up. If you're still traveling a painful journey, be assured that you will one day be able to see these positives as well.

Beginning a new year is an obvious time to look back as well as forward, but do so with Christ-filtered lenses. A "good year" doesn't necessarily mean a cake walk; it means a year of God continuing to shape you into the person He knows you can be.

What good or bad things did you face in 2010? What are you hoping for in 2011? Share on the AFN website.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Diane Markins can be reached at Visit her blog


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