Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dear 2015

Dear 2015,

I really don’t know where to begin. You have been an interesting year; a trying year. 365 days of uncertainty and stress; 8760 hours of growing pains and tough lessons. If I were to be completely honest, I’d say that I’m glad to see you go; that “good riddance” was in order and that I can’t wait to bring in the New Year. But 2015, you were much more complex than that and to end my time of reflection with merely what is listed above would just be an oversimplification and essentially miss the mark altogether. You see, you’ve been an excellent teacher and have made me better; for all your ups and downs, you’ve been worth it.

Jan. 2015- I started off the year voluntarily unemployed. I left the security and comfort of a Banking position to follow my heart and calling to volunteer for my local church. My job search took longer than anticipated and revealed a man-made safety net of my own provision. God showed me that I trusted more in my abilities and my previous profession as a Banker at Wells Fargo, than I did in Him. I couldn’t fully submerge myself where I was (volunteering at Newsong) because I was constantly thinking about my backup plan; my safety net, which was Wells Fargo. I knew that I had 6 months to change my mind and come back like I hadn’t missed a beat. It wasn’t until I asked for forgiveness and mentally let go of the possibility of returning that another door opened. I was offered a part time position at Newsong.

Feb. – June, 2015- During the first part of the year, things were tight financially. We had to be very intentional about how we managed our money. New reports continued to come in as Black Lives were being gunned down in the streets by Police Officers sworn to protect us. The onset started well before you, 2015 but the frequency and awareness was increasing, and we had to have constant meaningful conversations about how we’d respond in hostile situations. As stressful as it was for me, on top of all of this, my wife was dealing with her own issues. She was working for a boss who didn’t value her and was verbally abusive to his team. It made her hate her job and began to make her doubt herself. She’d come home from working 12 hour days, mentally exhausted and beaten down. It began to take its toll on our marriage. Communication was either miscued or tart, lacking the compassion and empathy needed to truly break through the sludge we were dealing with. It got to a point where it was too much for her to carry and something had to give; which happened to be her health. At that point, I was fully emerged in working for the Church and being involved in our Small Group P3. It was clear that she needed more from me, so I took few Sundays off for us to regroup.

June 17, 2015- Then Charleston happen.

I didn’t sleep that Wednesday night I found out. My mind was racing. I was angry. I was baffled. I wanted to do something; anything… I went to Christ Our Redeemer AME church in Irvine, CA the next morning to see what I could do to support. I waited outside before the office was open and was met there by two police officers in Irvine, pledging their support of the church and the community. Meanwhile, Leadership at my church (Newsong) were trying to decide what the best way to address it. It was decided to go to Charleston. So, on a one day notice, 8 days after the shooting we were on a plan and landing in Charleston, SC. I hadn’t been back in the south since the family and I moved from Florida in 2014. It was eerily familiar and yet South Carolina had its own distinct feel. You could almost feel the oppression in the air; the humidity was thick with it. But from the moment we stepped off the plane, I saw a city united. The sounds of old Spirituals were ringing off the steps of the church where these 9 lives were cut short; from every nationality in the community. The only thing you could feel more than the legacy of oppression and the sorrow of the people there was the overwhelming presence of hope. All the anger and darkness that I had been festering for a week simply melted away as I witnessed banner after banner that was raised throughout Charleston in solidarity of support of Emmanuel AME and those who lost loved ones that horrendous night. The conversations I had those few, brief days I will remember and cherish until my last breath.

A video posted by BROXTON (@wkbroxton) on

Aug-Sept, 2015-I come back from Charleston knowing that my heart is for the people and that a flame had been rekindled from my youth that I had somehow let burn to mere embers. By this time, I had gotten use to the roles I was serving in at Newsong and the door to full time employment had been opened. More responsibilities, assignments and projects were given out and each with its own unique challenges to overcome. Working for church has been an amazing, eye opening experience. This year I’ve learned so much about love, patience and perseverance and how much I needed to grow in each.

Oct. – December, 2015- The last three months of 2015 have been a blur. It’s been one major event at work after another, each with various levels of involvement from me: Trunk-or-Treat, Commitment Sunday, Thanksgiving, then Christmas- Winter Wonderland light display, theMIX Christmas Party, Christmas Sunday Christmas Eve Service and then our All Church Retreat which I’m writing this from reflection from. It almost seems like being tired is the new normal, since my children have absolutely no respect for personal space.
In all of this, I found out a few things that truly stand out to me about this year:

A photo posted by BROXTON (@wkbroxton) on

I.)                  It was really hard being away from our family. Our entire family is on the east coast. Before we made the pilgrimage, the furthest any of us had traveled was from Florida to Georgia (and Bryan got a lot of slack for moving so far away!). My kids are constantly asking and crying for their grandparents and remind us of the home we had in Florida, with the back yard and their pets and being able to play with their cousins. My son woke up in the middle of the night two weeks ago bawling his eyes out because he wanted to see his Grandparents again. I miss them, as well. We’re close and the distance has taken its toll. My grandfather is 92 and was in and out of the hospital the last part of the year. Both my parents are in their early 70’s and have made it clear that they won’t be here forever. My father’s health has been deteriorating for some time now and I recently found out that he’s basically not willing to go to the doctor to make sure he’s OK. My in-laws are in the same shape and my wife is the only child they have in position to help them.

II.)                California is not an easy place to be married and raised a family. Maybe it’s because we aren’t from here and have the perspective of living elsewhere but it seems really hard to live and build yourself up here if you aren’t single or affluent. My wife and I spent countless times worried over finances with both of us working (even when I was with WF). Housing is almost 3 times more expensive than it was in Florida and at times, it felt like we worked just to pay rent. Also, it literally feels like there is a principality over Southern California that has it in for your marriage. If you aren’t constantly spiritually prepared for the warfare that is needed to protect your marriage, it can take fatal blows quickly. We’ve had our fair share of knocks this year and it’s by God’s Grace and the support of people we consider West Coast family that we made it.

III.)              I Care more about people than money. I think I’ve always known this but this year has made it relatively plain. I’d rather my children have me than that toy they think they want right now but will either break it in two weeks or discard with their finite attention spans. I have no ambition to take over the world; I’ll leave that to my mad scientist of a wife. I do desire to impact it; change it for good and leave the world in a better condition than what I found it in. The best way I know to do that is to stay focused, disciplined and commit myself to a life worth living for Christ. I want to be an example for my children that they too have the ability to drastically shift the fabric of the world around them.

I must say, I have no idea what is waiting for me around the corner in 2016. But what I know with certainty is that I won’t be going at it alone. I’m grateful for another day, another year to get it right and to do something worthwhile. So, like my mother and father like to say. "It’s not goodbye, just So Long". Well, so long 2015. It’s been significant and poignant and by the grace of God, I’m ready for what’s next. 

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