Happy New Year!
In all honesty, I have avoided sending texts and tweets and leaving facebook updates wishing my hundreds of friends and followers (followers? like we're all mini-messiahs on Twitter) the pleasantries of the rolling calendar. It's just another day, bah humbug.
Don't get me wrong. I am open to receiving good wishes and kind thoughts on any day of any month. Strike that. On every day of every month. I just don't much care for this particular festival, with its cunning mix of nostalgia and delusion.
"Oh yes, 2010 was a very good year for us. Daniel received his knighthood for services to the chicken industry, Mathilda cured the common cold and little Percy got five A stars. We holidayed in Mauritius, Morocco and St Moritz, and were able to found a children's cancer home in Mozambique even though the economy did hit us quite hard. How was 2010 for you? Let's hope 2011 is even better!"
For me 2010 had some really awful bits in it, and looking back, I'm afraid I am still close enough for them to be the things that come to mind first. It had some real challenges, and some of them were successfully negotiated, and others remain ongoing. And yes, there were highlights; renewed friendships, good time spent with my Dad, a month at Asbury Seminary amongst them. It's good to recall those. But honestly - 2010, I'm glad to see the back of you.
So much for nostalgia. As for delusion...
It's not the concept of "resolutions" that I object to. I ignore these things, so they simply don't register for me. But if I profess to be glad a year is over, then sure enough this sentiment will follow on - "Well then, here's to a better year ahead!"
Why better ahead? Why, after all, should this last year have been so challenging? And then - what's wrong with challenging? Just because I didn't like it doesn't mean it was bad for me, does it? Why presume disike & difficulty are bad for me? In the grand sweep of things, what doesn't kill you can make you stronger, and 2010 might turn out to be one of those periods that proved invaluable. Not much fun, but invaluable - rather like theological college was. So why should I want next year to be "better" when really what's meant (kindly) by that is "easier"?
I'll confess - there are days I want easy...
But more: I want to live this life well. And when this life is not easy, I want to live the difficult days well, to get the most out of them, to make the best choices and to live this life well. Life is a gift from God. Not to be wasted. It is not measured in triumphs and prizes and wishing it away but in the quality of the living - and that is something that can only be measured against the standards the days we are given throw at us. How we live through tough days and how we live through glorious ones ought not look, feel, taste, sound or smell the same.
And I want to be able to have my hand held by God through every day and look him in the eye and say "thank you" each night. The days I love, the days I understand, the days I fear and loathe.
I don't need a "Happy" 2011. I don't wish one upon you - I fear you may be disappointed, unless you live in a fairytale. But I'd like a hopeful one; one where the hope of a good life, a life with Jesus remains and grows and shapes me and makes me better - one where such hope deepens beyond my understanding. And I pray that for you, too.