NYE– It’s almost upon us. A mere week after “the season of giving,” the season of ruthless and unrelenting self-improvement is here. And you know what that means… Get ready for crowded gyms and produce sections, and for desolate pizza places. This is the new year, a new start. Because when the clock strikes midnight, the person we were in 2015 is behind us. Everything we said and did, all that we didn’t achieve or didn’t say, all the destinations we didn’t wander to, and all of the promises we made to ourselves (and others) that we didn’t keep–At that deafening moment it all becomes something of the past. Even if just for a fleeting few days, our future is limitless; the world is ours to discover. And, most importantly, our slate is clean, and we are all offered a chance at a fresh start.
This time last year, I was lying in chocolate wrappers and mascara-stained tissues on my bed, mourning the loss of relationship with my closest friend. I couldn’t breathe. And, in many ways, at the end of the hardest semester of my life, I still sometimes forget to breathe. But, to my great surprise, the ways I’ve changed in the last year have not been in the ways that I had planned on, the ones etched carefully into my pocket-sized listing notebook that I’ve never let escape an intimate five-foot radius of my hand. I didn’t get much more physically fit, I never got into the habit of eating better, and I definitely didn’t run, read, and paint every morning. But I have learned that the most valuable goals we can achieve in a year are not the ones that can be listed upon lines. Life isn’t about following the big-scheme checkpoints through which you’ve mapped out your world; it’s about following the One that created the world—and, I bet you, He didn’t need checkpoints to do it, either.
This year, I’ve finally learned that my own checkpoints don’t mean squat if I’m excluding the One who guides me from them. Because in the end (hallelujah) HE “directs my path” (Proverbs 16:9). Growing up in the faith, as a prompt for forgiveness I was constantly reminded that “people will fail me.” I’m an attentive student, so I listened, and took it to heart. And while I do believe that that’s true to an extent, I tended to leave two things out of the heart of that quote:
- I, Annie Rose, am included when they say “people,” and
- “…BUT GOD will never fail you.”
Let me break those down… Having faith in others is hard, because there is nothing in you that can control them. When you’re training a dog not to bolt out your front door, you train them to stay–but you do so while they have a long leash on. Because even if you put your faith in them and in how well you’ve trained them, there is no guarantee that they won’t still run. And unless you’re wanting to knock two N. Y. E. resolutions down with one stone and go for a run while you’re at it, you need a fallback for if they DO run. However, we can’t put leashes on our relationships. On this earth, trusting people will always be a risky venture that we aren’t always reworded for investing in. But having faith in yourself is easy, when it boils down to it, regardless of how capable you are. Trusting yourself is more like piloting a plane. If the plane crashes, there is something you can do besides sitting, useless, left to panic in your seat. But we aren’t all pilots. Sometimes, in our selfishness and fear, we would rather pilot when we don’t really know how to fly a plane than give someone else the controls. I have always accepted that other people will fail me at some point or another, just because of our fallen and imperfect nature. But I have often forgotten to hold myself to that same standard. I am not perfect, I will fail. And the fearful perfectionist that I default to is suppressing a cringe, just typing that. But here’s the good news, the best news: But God.
“People will fail you,” but then came our Rescuer. He delivers us from our distorted self-defense modes, and right into two different ways that the story can go:
- “…BUT GOD will never fail me,” and
- “BUT then GOD happened,” and because of that, people won’t always fail me. And even when they do–He still loves me, and more often than not, they do too. Yes, people will fail eventually, because of who we are inherently. But because of who HE is inherently, there is still life and community available after failing or being failed by those whom we love most.
My New Year Resolution has a few parts to it. Last year He began showing me how to trust; but this year, I promise you, He will continue in that. Because He will always know how to fly my life better than I will ever be able to. And, most of all, He is so faithful. So, I hereby resolve this year to begin to own the fact that I wasn’t designed to live locked away in isolation because I don’t have enough trust in the world. Instead, I will practice putting my trust in God, and in people (even if it feels safer to hog the controls).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
-2 Corinthians 5:17
“New year, new me.” And how kind it is of God, and how thrilling it is for us, that we should be given the opportunity each year to become a new creation–to become more like Christ. Last year they called me Saul (“Susannah,” my full name), but this year, thanks to magnificent power and gentle grace, I am called Paul (or, rather, “Annie”).
Welcome to story of my transformation.
// A. Rose H.