Thursday, January 21, 2016

2016: The Promise

A new year.

Normally, I approach each new year with new optimism. Life will be incredible! Financial rewards will finally find me! I make promises for a slimmer me, a more devout me, a more spiritually aware me.

I am not always disappointed. I see growth. I see positive changes.

2016 doesn't feel like one of those years. It feels like it will all balance out. A "blah" year. Some good, some bad. Some devastatingly bad, some excruciatingly wonderful things will happen.

I could be wrong.

This could be a great year. Everything from health, to spiritual development, to four rough drafts finished, a successful promotion that lands me on the best seller lists, win the lottery (or just start my modest home inspection business successfully would be nice), closer family relations, several fun and fruitful trips to Cozumel and West Virginia--all these things could feasibly go off without a hitch. I could manage to improve my prayer life. My Bible study time. Grow more hair on my head.

Those things are more than just possible. They are probable; except for the lottery, maybe.

The problem is that I am afraid. Afraid that so many things could go bad. My parents' health. Weather. My job. My writing career. Our nation's politics. Falling gas prices. Joblessness. World hunger. My family's faith.

I worry that as many things that could go right this year, there is an equal amount of things that could go wrong. I have friends whose families' are struggling with health, friends who are struggling with finances, jobs, and weighty decisions. It's not all about me. I am effected by those I care about.

In all of this I know that I am forgetting the one thing that can make it all right despite my worries. Despite the crazy things that happen in this crazy world of ours. Earthquakes in Oklahoma! Who would have thought of it? I am forgetting something more important than my diet, my exercise regimen, my prayer habits, my greed. Bigger than my expectations, stronger than my concerns, more powerful than my self-loathing.

My God will make this all right. Every year we see changes. God is unchangeable. This world is not. We are not. We can be molded. Wet clay in the hands of our Maker. We can be hammered, beaten and forced into the fire. Swords of steel, flashing brightly in the molten heat of this world. We can receive the breath of God, fanning our flames, creating a delicate and beautiful thing, like the art of Chihuly. We can succumb to the pressures that turn us--lumps of coal--into diamonds. Strong and brilliant, multi-faceted and unique.

We are not the sum of where we have been. We are constantly becoming. We will never be exactly who we are at this moment. Some are less malleable than others, I am sure. Some of you may be stubbornly holding on to the same hair spray from the 70s or the same WWJD bracelets from the 90s. God is constantly working on us. We are a work always in progress. The trick is to let Him do his work and get out of his way.

My realization is that I need to put my life in more capable hands than my own. To be that clay vessel, to be that fiery sword, to live my life as transparent as glass or as strong and unique as a  diamond, I must allow God to shape me. I must find God's will in every event in my life: good and bad.

The change this year begins with me. I make a promise. Not that I am going to write 1 million words or that I will lose 20 pounds, read fifty books, or pray ten times a day. I will be even bolder than that. I promise to give my life. I promise to sacrifice myself as much as I am able. I promise to let God use me for His will.

I don't know what this will look like. I am sure it will tax me. I am sure I will struggle with it. But I know there will be a change. There always is. The difference this year, whether it is good or bad or even "blah," is that I am going to allow God to change ME.