2020: A Great Year
I just wanted to make a post about how thankful I am to be living such a good life. While there’s been a lot of complaints about 2020, I’ve generally had one of the greatest years of my life. Let me start from the beginning…
My (now wife) Ann-Marie and I made our first big purchase together before the year started (see: Bloobaru below), and from my moms persistence, we finally started an Alpha group at City Church Madison. We’d been together for over 2 years, but many of our social settings we were in were either based in one of our individual hobbies, based on one of our individual friendgroups, or based on work friends since we both interned at Schneider Electric, and then Epic Systems. This was a different setting. I got to see how we react in an unfamiliar environment to us both, and it was absolutely amazing to see. To hear her opinions, to speak to mine, in a group setting. And to speak about it after.
Being able to connect with some great people in the Christian setting who were non-judgemental, was huge for me as well. There were many people in the group who would just talk, and many people in the group whom I disagreed with, but I’m very thankful for going (and committing to go) every week with Ann-Marie. At the point around February/March when COVID-19 started becoming a thing, we were cut short and had our last meeting. It was a weekend where we “go somewhere” (usually a farm, but due to COVID-19 just the youth center), and spend more than our usual 1-2 hour block with one another. At one point on that Saturday, Ann-Marie and I were split up, and I was lucky to have some 1:1 time with the leader in the group (Dick) about general struggles in life (he was the only other guy). It was his first time as an Alpha leader, and I felt comfortable talking openly about my struggles with Christian faith, such as the very strong tendency to judge non-Christians, or tell non-Christians they’re not believers.
He could related to my largely agnostic / skeptical based views, and spoke from his experience when he was in the same boat after his military service, where it was him and his drinking buddies (he’s now sober). I found we were very similar, both alcoholics, both sober, so I really took a lot of what he said to heart. I remember him talking about how he discovered Jesus from reading the Bible a lot, and I talked about how I like that idea, almost in conflict to the sort of “aha” moments you hear about people having in their relationship with Christ. Dick recommended reading for myself, rather than basing it on individuals, and letting others’ (family or friends) tell you what to believe as truth. Well, hearing it from him really paved the path for me. The more I read, the more I start to understand how easily things can be interpreted, then accepted as truth by the Christian community because it’s easier for people when things are concrete. A lot of my beliefs in Christianity actually came to be supported by many of the fundamental truths I’ve come to accept in life - we exist, and we are meant to love (see: “Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama).
I struggle with my faith, and the main thing that makes me feel like I have “faith” is reading the Bible chapter by chapter, or some guided reading from the studies in the bible.com app. Getting closer to Jesus isn’t a “black and white” thing for me, and I assume it’s the same way for many others who grew up believing and trusting in science. It’s something that comes after a lot of discovery, connecting dots, and ruling out unreasonable conclusions (what if X lied only works for so many situations). Looking back, while it’s not something that I think about every day, I’m beyond thankful for the conversations I’ve had with Dick, as he helped me find Jesus, and through Jesus, helped me figure out how to love myself – something SO essential to growing as a person, and finally proposing to my girlfriend.
I’d wanted to propose to my (then girlfriend) for over a year, but I’d admittedly struggled because I often just didn’t feel like I was good enough, or ‘marriage material’ (my parents are divorced). I struggled to find the right time to speak to her family about it as well, but I pulled in her sister (who’s an AMAZING human being), got their help, and finally made it happen!
While the proposal itself was pushed back, and changed, due to COVID, I was able to find the right time and place for it – a wonderful Friday where I got her to agree to a date, before we walked to the state house (our favorite place).
After that, well, we were both very lucky to work from home for the rest of the year, and we found out around the end of summer that Ann-Marie was pregnant! While it came with a bit of financial planning, we were happy to know and then discover that we were expecting a girl, as well as that we were able to have such a wonderful wedding while Ann-Marie was still fairly early in pregnancy (yes, we socially distanced).
Finally, I’m just beyond thankful for where I am employment wise as well. Since taking a software engineering course in C++ in school, I’ve always wanted to do software development, and expecting our little girl is what finally pushed me to really shift my focus to search for a new job full time. I was very fortunate to land a mostly remote position with an awesome company doing mobile & web development in the wound care industry!
Looking to next year, I’m excited for Ann-Marie to be able to take January off to be able to focus on her own health and well-being in the last month of pregnancy. Most of all, I’m excited for our little girl, to be born around Feb 1st! There is so much that I have to learn and improve on to become a good Dad, but I think that if there’s anything I learned from my school and work, it’s that a continuous
We started going under quarantine orders in March.
While quarantine may have conflicted with my proposal times, it turned out being a blessing in disguise - I was able to