Goodbye and Good Riddance

The Year That Was One of the annoyances on FaceBook and Twitter and other places where people put their best foot forward (like church) is the penchant some have to insist that every day is a great day. Everyone knows that it just isn't true.

It isn't true for anyone.

If every day was a great day, if every sandwich or every football game or every date or every Christmas gift was "great," the word great would cease to exist. It has no meaning. If everything is great, then nothing is great. Don't you see that? "Great" is a comparative, qualitative condition. Its overuse weakens its meaning until it has no meaning.

Every day is NOT a great day. Some days are full of trouble and trials and heartache. You can smile your way through them if that is your personality or way of dealing with adversity. Fine. Smile. But don't try to shove that lie about how great it is down the world's gullet.

We aren't buying it.

Let me go a step further. Not every year is particularly great, either. Take 2009, for instance. Please...take it, stick it in the history books, and let it go the way of the world. It was, in so many ways, a simply terrible year. Consider...

  • The worst election result in the history of the United States—a result so devastating that it may be the election to which we one day point and say, "There began the slow death of American democracy as we knew it."
  • The collapse of massive financial institutions, causing a near-depression like economic downturn.
  • The government bailout and takeover of banking institutions and the nation's largest auto maker.
  • Rampant unemployment.
  • The ever-deepening divide between conservatives and liberals, to the point that the most sweeping legislation in generations will become law with the support of just one party, and not a single member of the other.
  • The erosion of Christian influence in a nation founded on our very principles, spurred by the beliefs and practices of the closet Muslim in the Oval office, whose claim to "Christianity" is that he attended Jeremiah Wright's church.
  • Tiger Woods
  • David Letterman

I know some will read this and be aghast. How can a former pastor write such things? Anathema! He has gone to the Devil.

Oh, shut up.

Did you ever read the Psalms? Was David always upbeat and cheerful? Did he meet every day with that fake smile and pretend he was rejoicing? Nope. Some of his writings were intensely painful, fraught with doubt, cries for help, expressions of hopelessness. And why? It is what he felt. So why lie about it? Why put on the mask and play the game? God knows the truth anyway.

Wasn't Jeremiah the "weeping prophet?" Did that make him a weak believer? Didn't Solomon write a little book called Lamentations?

I am no David (well, actually that is my first name) or Jeremiah or Solomon, to be sure. Nor am I always honest and forthright. Sometimes, I speak up when I ought to shut up and others, I shut up when I ought to speak up. Sometimes, I am right. Others, I am wrong. Sometimes, I am neither right nor wrong, because not everything is as black and white as we want to believe.

So, take this with a grain of salt. If 2009 was a great year for you personally, then hallelujah and eat your black-eyed peas. For me, personally, I say...

Goodbye. And good riddance.

Happy New Year!