I know it's coming...the calendar says so, my friends say so, even nature says so. It rolls around every 365 days, like clockwork: the New Year. And yet, with all of that notice and my resolute plans in place, the excitement and anticipation seems to always be mixed with slight foreboding of what will actually transpire in the coming year. I shrink from the thought of being in this same place next year, hoping once again that I can lick this thing this time around. And, for crying out loud, there are so many things to "lick" that I can't help feeling a bit...okay, let's be honest...completely overwhelmed!
Of course--like everyone else--I want to do better, be better, look better this year, but I know full well that my intentions are flimsy when it comes to standing up to my own faulty self-discipline...and then there are the tug-of-war voices that know just the right thing to say to make it all seem like a bad idea in the first place. Alas, head thrown back, hands cast in the air, I crumple and fall into a heap of apathy, like last night's discarded jeans.
As I am contemplating all of this, I "happened" to encounter a never-before-met neighbor--an older gentleman--this morning (on my first "New Year's resolution to exercise" walk) and asked what he is looking forward to in the new year; he said, "A better year." I immediately felt somber and asked had he had a bad year in 2018, embracing for the worst; but much to my pleasant surprise, he answered "No, I had a very good year, it's just that with each year I learn more and so can do better...and that is what I am looking forward to in the new year."
Deep, involuntary sigh...jaw relaxes...shoulders climb back down from my ears...breathing resumes to normal. There is peace...can you feel it?
Perhaps my new friend holds the key to felicity in the new year. Not to rush crazily to the starting line heavy laden with my own best-laid plans, supporting my own self-made ideas of personal improvement, which--let's face it--will be yesterday's news in no time, deep-sixed with the rest of the 50-something ill-fitting New Year's resolutions; but instead, to honor my lifetime covenant with God. Believing His promise to finish what He started in me, to anticipate and respond to God's active presence in my life--daily. As He gently introduces new growth and learning, to be prepared to calibrate my actions, words, mindset, according to His calling over my life. No guilt...no shame...just a trust in my Father, who cares so deeply for us in our human condition. I can hear the old hymn in my mind, "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling..."