It’s December 30th and the last time Feliz Navidad danced into my inner ear was a good three days ago. The bell-ringers have vacated their store-front posts and like a blanket of brown, prickly snow, the pine needles have dried up and fallen brittle on the tree skirt.
Here we are again.
Tucked into that seasonal lull that is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Seven whole days of being torn between not wanting to say goodbye to red and green and wanting so badly to usher in the newness of a fresh start. We teeter between clinging and letting go; our hands in a constant state of fluctuation between white-knuckled gripping and wide open palms. One minute we mourn the passing of yet another conglomerate of mistletoe and egg nog and the next we are scouring through our mental dictionaries in search of our one-word mantra for the upcoming year.
And because time has this way of escorting us forward, a chaperone that steers us onto whatever’s next, the latter always wins.
Suddenly we’re stowing away the rolls of leftover wrapping paper in the backs of our freshly-stocked closets and, like fiends, we resolve to do better this year. As if one stroke of the minute hand will magically propel us a step closer to the person we so desperately desire to be, we list out the ways we will be better, thinner, nicer, holier…
As if our notepads were deprived of ink for the past 12 months, we perceive them as parched for our hand-written goals and so we inscribe line after line of our aspirations.
To be more generous.
To eat more healthy.
To read more books.
To spend more time with family.
To travel more.
With each bullet on our list, we itemize, idolize and idealize.
We scour our Bible’s index for verses to preside over the next 365 and a quarter days – one giant theme for the next year of our lives – and we blissfully hope for a year in which we’ll be knee-deep in blessings upon blessings.
I tried so hard to do this. Tucked away in the quiet of my one-bedroom, I longed to be able to write a list and resolve to have a year that would make what was a trainwreck in 2013, a beautiful masterpiece in 2014. If you looked at my life through a magnifying glass, you’d probably pop up from that all-exposing lense and tell me that,
I should be kicking 2013 straight out the door.
You’d probably step back from the lab table, walk over to where I was standing, grab me by the shoulders and look me square in the eyes before rattling off some well-intended speech about how 2014 will be better, that God has great things in store for me. And I’d look you right back in the eyes and squeeze your hands in the sincerest thanks and in every way possible, I’d pray you were right about the part about it being better. I’d nod my head and admit to you, pride falling to the floor like the pine needles from the tree, that 2013 knocked me down. When our hands unclasped and returned to their own sides, I’d ask you if I could be honest with you. For just one second. Out of sheer curiosity, I think you’d say yes, and when you did, I’d tell you this:
2014 will not be different. It just won’t.
I’d beg you to hear that as a God-sent truth and not some jaded utterance that’s born out of a broken spirit. I’d probably apologize before I started to explain myself, but then I would. And I’d tell you that I just know 2014 won’t really be that different.
There will be heartbreak.
There will be disappointment.
There will be change that shakes you to your core and jumbles your foundation. And for a second that feels like eternity, you’ll question the sturdiness of whatever it was you were standing on to begin with.
There will be unwanted surprises.
There will be defeat.
There will be flashes of time when you feel like the rug was ripped out from underneath your quivering feet and the whole world was waiting for your graceless dismount.
Struggle is struggle. Hurt is hurt. Pain is pain. Discomfort is discomfort. And while all of these things wear different masks year after year, their manifestation is irrelevant to their effect. They happen to us. Every year. (And if you’re one of the lucky ones, love, you’ll plow through with grace.)
And just as your brow starts to furrow and you take in that breath we all take just before we open our mouths to dispel the negativity that is too often breathed into the atmosphere, I would breathe in too. Quickly. When my lungs were replenished, I’d rush to finish my thought:
This year will not be any different.
But neither will God.
There, too, will be good – because He is good.
There will be joy that knows no bounds.
There will be news that makes your heart swell with delight.
There will be moments when you know, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that God Himself orchestrated His grace to find you just where you are.
Stop listing out all of the things that will create the perfect version of yourself. You already exist and it has nothing to do with anything you can or cannot do.
2014 will not be any different.
You will get knocked down again. But God’s grace will still reign supreme. And whether you fall down or fall short, He hasn’t changed – and because of that, we can know for sure that 2014 will be filled with Him faithfully scooping us up.
Praise God for His unchanging and immovable grace. He is good. Cheers to 2014!
Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano via Creative Commons