Thursday, January 30, 2014
My daughter is teaching me how to be a champion. I'm sure most parents -- at least, the committed ones -- hit this point eventually. Your child needs you in a kind of... extraordinary way. Not the usual diapers, food, physical/fleeting needs way. But real help, big help, long-term kind of way. Maybe it's when she first starts school and doesn't know how to make friends. Or when she realizes that her friends are mean and doesn't know how to stop being friends. Or when she gets her first job and her boss is rude. Or when she meets a guy and thinks he's "the one" and doesn't know how to know. I can remember my own parents jumping to action for me -- not fixing it, whatever "it" was, but championing me. Rooting, fighting for, pushing (lovingly), reminding me of my capabilities and worthiness. The fight was worth it, the work was worth it, because I was worth it.
My daughter needs me champion-style now. We do a lot of hard work together, things that wear her out and make her cry. She needs help learning how to sit up, how to hold weight on her feet, how to pull her head up big and strong. She's done a lot of fighting so far, but I have to keep rooting her on because the battle is not yet won. I have to cheer her (with my face and hands since she can't hear my "good job, baby!" though I say it anyway... I can't not). I have to make her do hard things -- press those feet flat, pull that chin up, stretch those arms out, lock them, you can crawl. I have to push her, keep going even when she cries because when she cries? Where it hurts? That's what needs the most work. That's what we have to do the most.
It's hard for both of us. It's hard for her, physically. We work her muscles and I can see her strain. She can do it a few times and then she starts to get tired and she bobbles and wobbles, fighting to hold her place but eventually losing it, dropping or drooping or letting go. I give her a rest and then we go again, back to it because she has to get stronger, she has to keep going, she has to keep pushing. It's hard for me, mentally and emotionally. It's hard to see her struggle and push her harder instead of rescuing her. It's hard to remember why we're doing these stupid exercises one more stinking time when they don't seem to help. It's hard to make myself want it when she couldn't seem to care less. She's stubborn and reluctant. I push hard, but she pushes back, resists. Luckily for her, I tell her, I have many more years of practice at this stubborn thing and there's no way she'll win that battle. ;)
But most of all, I have to remind myself that she's worth it. I can lose sight of that in the mundanity, the difficulty, but it's the core of all this. She's worth the ringing in my ears from her loud protests. (Seriously, she's so loud, it physically hurts me.) She's worth the scratches all over my face because I'm what keeps her interested, motivated, distracted. She's worth the mind-numbing boringness of spending hours of my life pressing her feet onto the floor, tiny, cold, protesting feet that just want to flick back up and float in the air. She's worth all the books I could have read in that time and life-changing movies or TV shows I could have filled my brain with and compelling blog posts I missed out on reading because I was busy circling her with my arms to catch her when she tips from her sit.
She's a tiny little soul, sent to grow inside me, right next to my heart. And she doesn't live in there any more, but she's still inside me, right next to my heart, right there as a piece of it. And what I have to remember most is that while she was sent to me, she was sent... to me. As she is a gift to me, I am a gift to her. And we are meant to fight together. She is my tiny boxer in the ring and I am her cornerman (cornermom?). I'm the one cheering for her, telling her what to watch for, what to do next. I'm the one wiping off her blood and icing her bruises and giving her water. And I'm the one sending her back out there, confident, because I've got her back. This is her and this is me and this is what we do, together. And while I've not a clue what kind of prize comes with this fight (is there a belt for becoming a grown up?), I have a distinct feeling that we're going to win.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Occasionally in my reading life, I find a voice that resonates with me. Someone whose words mine my own thoughts, sometimes thoughts I never knew I had, and express them in ways I never could. It's a rewarding experience, one that makes me feel connected and like I have a friend out there in the world, someone who really gets me. Margaret Atwood, for instance. I simply adore her books. She speaks my language. I have this feeling that were we ever to meet in "real" life, we would be instant best friends and never spend another day apart. (Marge, if you're reading this, give me a call!)
Ann Voskamp is another of those voices. She has inspired me to do two things: 1) Take the Joy Dare. 2) Share it with you. Every Saturday, she posts something called "Only the Good Stuff" (link is to today's). Uplifting, encouraging, good stuff from the internet. I love this. I need this! And I learn about so many incredible stories and people and new songs. This week's really hit home for me in the story about a disabled girl and her older brother. If you read/watch only one thing in her post, watch that one!
Inspired by her "Only the Good Stuff", I am going to post each Saturday (ideally) and share four or five of my "joys" from the week. Ann's Joy Dare charges her readers to count their gifts, three each day. By the end of the year, that adds up to over a thousand gifts! (1,095 to be exact.) The idea is that if we continually ponder the blessings in our lives, we put them before our eyes and see God's goodness in every day, especially the days that seem less than good. Her templates have prompts for those days when I'm not feeling so joyful. I consider "Three gifts blue" and suddenly I find blessings I hadn't seen yet. I know God has taught me that having joy in life is a choice, that even when our circumstances seem perfect, we can choose sorrow, that even when our circumstances seem dire, we can choose joy. That, in fact, joy is the center of our purpose and worth fighting for.
I'm not sharing *all* of my gifts because some of them are silly and some require explanation and I'm just not committed to listing them all out. But I want to share some of them because I want to put God's blessings in my life before your eyes, so you can see God's goodness in every week and be inspired to find it in your own little corner of the world.
So, from this past week, five gifts in my life:
1) The ring around my son's eyes. My eyes are brown. Just simple, not exciting brown. I have never minded this, but I love meeting someone with exciting eyes. An interesting color or pattern or ones that change depending on what they're wearing. Mine aren't any of these things, but they have a ring around them. A dark ring that changes sizes depending on how big my pupils are. My son has this, and as much as he looks like his daddy, I love looking into his eyes and seeing a piece of me.
2) A late-night snow. It had been a crazy-busy week and I found myself waiting desperately for my husband to come home from his closing shift at the coffee shop. He walked in the door and I exhaled loudly with relief (ever find yourself holding your breath without realizing it? that was me...) and he said, "It's snowing. Like, really snowing!" Immediately I grabbed my two-year-old son and a big blanket and we ran outside to catch snow flakes on our tongues. My son looked at me with such surprise and excitedly said, "Dart ow. Nooooo!!!!!" ("Dark out. Snow!!!!!") I loved how he was surprised that we would go out when it was dark (we rarely do) and I love that the way he said "snow" sounded like he was excitedly shouting "no". It was a precious moment with my boys.
3) A new covenant, not the law. My reading in Hebrews left me pondering the comparison between the Old Testament covenant and the new covenant with Jesus. The new covenant, the one we are a part of, throws off the trappings of the law and puts it all on Christ. What a blessed freedom! It stirred up such a thankfulness in my heart for a High Priest we can truly lean on, trust in, and live through.
4) Getting all the laundry done in one day. This is a victory, a big one! Four people (even two of them tiny) produce a lot of laundry. Getting it all washed, dried, folded, and put away in one day is practically unheard of in my life! We celebrate every victory around here, even the *little* ones :)
5) Winnie the Pooh. I know this might seem crazy, but that silly ol' bear really saved us the last couple weeks! My son had a pretty bad cold and just wanted to sit on the couch and not move. Very unusual for a little boy who barely sits down most days! Pooh bear kept us company and made us laugh. I'm thankful for this simple thing that both of us can enjoy. Its innocence and imagination inspire me and my kiddo.
There you have it! Joys from my week. Consider taking Ann's Joy Dare. It has become one of my favorite parts of the day, to list out the unique ways God has blessed me each day. If nothing else, when the skies look grey and bleary (as they currently do at our house -- more snow coming?), turn your mind to the sun. It's always shining, even when you can't see it!
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I've been reading Ecclesiastes. If you've never read it, it goes a little something like this: "Life's short and then you die." Yeah. Very encouraging. Very uplifting. "All is vanity and a striving after the wind." Over and over and over. "Hey you, everything you do is pretty meaningless because you will die and then it will all be gone." I'm not exactly sure why I picked this book to read through, other than remembering that our pastor preached through it at a time when we were living elsewhere. I like to read an Old Testament and New Testament book, just a little bit each day. I picked up where I left off in Hebrews some eight months ago and started in on Ecclesiastes.
Something very curious happened today while I read. These two books, 864 pages apart in my study Bible, came together, wove together, connected, in a sort of heart-stopping way. I'm toodling along in Ecclesiastes, "yeah, yeah"-ing Samuel (or whoever wrote it) as he continues to go through the same stuff. But then this verse caught my eye: "Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil." (Ecclesiastes 9:9) He has addressed this before. Life is short, then you die, so while you're here, eat, drink, and be merry because it is all fleeting. He doesn't mean this in a "damn it all, it doesn't matter what you do" kind of way, but more in a "don't get attached to this world" kind of way. For some reason, verse 9 chapter 9 really caught me. "Because that is your portion in life." What is? "Joy." Maybe it's because I had just given my toddler a bite of my breakfast, his little portion of my bagel, and he took so much joy in that little bite. His little piece of a much bigger meal, his portion, brought him joy. And here God says, in your big, big life with all its people and things and things to do, your portion... the part you get... is joy. I held this in my heart for a minute and tried to convince myself that I really believed it as that same once-joyful toddler burst into tears because his toy was stuck. And we're up-up-up, look at all that joy! Now we're down-down-down because life is broken.
I moved onto Hebrews, chapter 12, the money chapter. A lot of people quote stuff from this chapter, but reading it in the context of the whole book is so interesting. I read that verse one, the "run with endurance" one that people always pray before marathons or whatever other insane things they do, but the part that stuck with me was not the part about running. (No one is surprised by this.) It was the "lay aside every weight". "Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." (Hebrews 12:1) It's like Ecclesiastes and Hebrews just linked hands and skipped off into the sunset. Put them together:
All you have in life, your whole portion, everything you get, is to take joy in your life and in your work. To do this, to "run this race", you have to set aside whatever it is that is holding you down.
That weight on your shoulders: throw it off. Fear? Throw it off. Depression? Throw it off. Discouragement? Throw it off. Greed? Throw it off. All these things, they are weights, they are holding us down, and it's not just that they make us slow; they steal our joy.
And joy? It's all we have. It is our portion.
I sat in my chair for a minute, tears welling up in my eyes because, man, I have a lot to throw off. I began to read again and that is when the tears began to flow. I tell you to throw off your weights and you look at me like I am from Mars. How am I supposed to do that? How am I supposed to just magically not let these things consume me? I am stuck here, weighted down. My leg is pinned under the rock and the water is rising and I am not strong enough to move this boulder. Hebrews tells you how. Continued from verse one, Hebrews 12 says this: "Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross." (Hebrew 12:2) WHO FOR THE JOY. Jesus, for joy, endured the cross. God-made-man allowed Himself to hang... not to prove a point or "finish" or win. He endured the cross... for joy.
Your portion in life, all you have, is the joy you take in your life and work. Anything else is a weight. Anything else holds you down, holds you back, breaks you, and takes from you. But it's not as simple as plastering a smile on your face and pretending you love losing your job or your loved one or any and all sense of control. It's not as simple as ignoring all the hardships and focusing on the positives. It's not as simple as just saying you believe this while inside, your heart churns with the injustice of it all. It's not that simple. It's layered and deep and hard to see. It's Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, waiting for his accuser, "saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.'" (Matthew 26:39) It is Jesus saying, "God, if there is another way..." yet WHO FOR THE JOY.
If I had known the cup coming our way, I would have prayed for another way. I would have prayed for God to take the cup and throw it out the window. It is not the cup I wanted to drink. But. It is also not what lasts. My daughter's health struggles, your layoff, your friend's failing marriage, the injustices of war, and every other terrible-awful: they are fleeting. They come, they go, and they do not last. It doesn't mean we shouldn't care. It doesn't mean we should close our eyes tight and just wait for it all to finish. It doesn't mean it's not important or real, but it's not what is most important or most real. If it was, then God is dead and all of us be damned. But Jesus did not drink the cup of God's wrath for us to be weighted down by our lives. He did not take your sins and failings onto Himself so you could drown. He did it for the joy. He knew the joy coming after the pain. He knew the promise, the rainbow, that would shine, and in His suffering, painful death, He held on. He didn't free Himself or wave His magic wand. He hung on that cross and allowed Himself to die... because He knew it wasn't the end. He knew His death wasn't the final chapter of the story, but rather the first, the beginning of something beautiful, of the most beautiful something that ever was.
Believe me when I say, it is very easy to let your life swallow you up. Life is not easy, and bad things happen to the most beautiful people. But the bad things don't win. The bad things don't win and neither do the good things or the just okay things. Joy wins. Joy wins because it is our portion. It is all we have. Joy doesn't require that we fake it til we make it or that we be happy, pretty, perfect people. Joy comes from God and we open our mouths and eat. We take that bite and savor it and thank God for our portion. We can chew on the evil all day. We can gnaw the fat of our sorrows til our jaws ache. Or we can take joy in all of it and know that of everything we face -- all the big, weighty bads and the high, fleeting goods -- joy endures. Joy lasts. Joy carries us, as it carried Jesus, through anything that God brings our way.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Two nights ago, I sat with my daughter in the pediatrician's office (no ear infection, hooray!) and for some reason, I started to wonder how I got there. So many times, we have waited in that very office. So many visits in the last five months to a place that, before June, I have never even heard of. How had it come to feel so familiar, somewhere I knew so well? Life takes those turns sometimes, and you can't always see them coming.
I started to follow the threads... from check ups and cranials and emergencies all the way back to her birth. We were blissfully unaware of any problems until she arrived and looked like a blueberry muffin. "We're contacting the pediatrician on call." Okay... Is she okay? "Let's just wait for her to get here, okay?" Okay. Okay. In less than a minute, she looked her over and figured it out. Diagnosed her (though not formally, but she would be proved right). Told me we would watch for a while, but that she was going to contact the transport team. Transport team? "Yes, in case she needs to go." Go. Okay. It wasn't more than a half hour later when she came back. "Okay, mom, we're sending her." Her eyes. Her big, honest eyes filled with resolve and compassion. As awful as it is being the mom whose baby is being taken away, how awful is it to be the one to make that call? Deliver that news? Okay. I trusted her. I trusted her eyes, and so they took my daughter away.
Fast foward. "Who is her pediatrician?" Um, we don't have one. "All that matters is that you have someone you can trust." And I could see her eyes. It had to be. In that moment, I realized that God had sent her to us. He had woven her into our story because we would need her. We would need to trust her. We would need to lean on her. She would be the center of our medical world, the one holding all the revolving specialists in line.
And I wasn't wrong. We did need her. We needed her when I rushed in without an appointment, afraid for my daughter's leaking tube site. We needed her to keep a watchful eye as it healed. We needed her to recommend help for my daughter's flattened head. Amazingly, help we could find so easily in one of her partners, another one woven in. We needed her other partner when she would go on leave to have her own sweet blessing, a doctor who cares for other babies we love, who has compassion for a mom who brings in her perfectly healthy baby simply because she's worried.
So many threads and they weren't placed on accident. We didn't trip into a pile of strings to get tangled up in this mess. We were grafted in, worked in, placed. We had needs... big, big needs and they were met. Not by the hands of fate or by some great chance, but by the Meeter of needs. I felt at home in that office, that familiar waiting room with the receptionist who knows me and my daughter by name and the nurse that soaked up her shot-induced vomit with paper towels and a caring heart... I felt at home there because I was given a home there. I was given a rescuer, one to trust and rely on because I needed her and God met that need.
He didn't meet that need two days ago. He didn't meet that need when her tube fell out. He didn't meet that need when she was discharged from the hospital. He met it before she was even born. He put her doctor on call that day because He knew she would be the one we needed. He knew I would trust her honest eyes and He knew she would know exactly what to do and that she would do it, even though it was hard. He started weaving that tapestry long before we could see the picture coming into view.
It would be easy to think that just the good parts are the woven parts. The stellar pediatrician with excellent partners in her practice. The star neonatologist who just happened to be the one to admit her. The amazing nurses who cared for her like she was their own... and who held my hand through a lot of scaries. Our incredible family -- both physical and spiritual -- who prayed and walked with us and shared our sorrows. It would be easy to think that those were the parts God wove together for us. But He wove so much more. He wove us into a world of platelets and bilirubin and calories and pounds. A picture that held feeding tubes and hypoallergenic formula and PICC lines and heel sticks. A tapestry of broken ears and surgeries and weighty, impossible decisions. The picture is more complicated than that. The scene is deeper and fuller and stranger than we can know.
I can't explain to you, to myself, how this picture all comes together. I'm not the artist, the weaver, the conductor of the grand orchestra. But I can tell you there is a picture. The Word speaks to God's plan, His power, from the very beginning. And it also speaks to His goodness, His love, for us. Sometimes the picture is so ugly and confusing, like a mess of tangled threads. And sometimes, even while sitting in a doctor's office, the picture can come into view, if just for a moment. And it is so, so beautiful. So beautiful because it is a picture of love, a picture... of Love. And for that moment, you can see the care, the deliberate weaving, the purpose in each thread, even the ugly ones. And for that moment, the glimpse is not just of the woven, but the weaver. The One whose hand knitted my daughter together in my womb, held her back from death, and delivered her to life. The One who hand still carries her, carries me, now. The One who continues to weave our threads into a glorious picture of Himself -- Love, Peace, Home.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
My daughter is deaf. She got her hearing aids last week, and I tried so hard not to get my hopes up, but you know what they say about hope and its feathers and all that. The darn thing just took right off up into the sky... And so when we found that her hearing really is as bad as they thought, that the hearing aids don't seem to be doing much (though they still might in time... but unlikely), my hope's little wings burst into flames and down it fell. It got me thinking about what is disappointing about this situation. Yes, she can't hear and that's tricky in a hearing world. She might get implants to help her but whether she does or not, she's still in a difficult situation but one that is totally doable. What's really eating at me is that she doesn't measure up.
The perfect baby smiles responsively by so many weeks, rolls over this way and that way, reaches for toys, put things in her mouth, sits up, crawls, cruises, walks, says this and that in this way and that way and look, how perfect. "Turns to mom's voice." Uhhh... "Startles at loud sounds." Uhh... No. None of these. My daughter isn't perfect. She has missed some of these deadlines and will likely miss more. She's on a sort of side road, measuring along at her little pace but just a little behind -- behind on the curve, behind on the milestones, always just not. quite. there. Where she's *supposed* to be. And no one's concerned. No one's saying, "Mom! Mayday! We've got a serious problem here!" But no one has to. The standard is out there, hanging in front of me. I can't not see it.
And I understand. I know why they push it and ask me so many questions at her check ups and keep checking in. The earlier delays are identified, the easier they are to address. The earlier intervention begins, the better the outcome for the child. And I welcome the help and the intervention. I want it for my daughter. But all the questions and the standards and picture perfects throw me off. They make me forget what is truly important, what standard truly matters.
My daughter isn't the only one out there. We all have our pretty perfect standards of who we should be. The perfect stay-at-home-mom prepares three meals a day for her family complete with nutritional snacks, all while maintaining a picture perfect home and conforming to society's standards of cleanliness. (She might even wear makeup. Gasp!) The perfect husband and father works hard every day and comes home full of energy to love his wife and play a round of catch with his son and have a tea party with his daughter who paints his finger nails. He does bath time and story time and bed time and has the energy to do it all again the next day. The perfect professional shows up to work on time every day, logs extra hours but not too many as to rack up overtime, meets every deadline and engages in every meeting, and certainly never, ever gets bored or browses Facebook on the office computer.
We have these standards and we stare them in the face every day. We look up at them sort of wistfully as they hang above us, blinding us with their bright impossibility. We know we'll never be that perfect person. But we keep on staring. Sometimes we even take our dirty shirt sleeve and buff that shining perfection, just to make it shine a little brighter. We imagine that someone somewhere out there is this person, and our little feathered hope inside us thinks we could maybe be that too. And when we're not? When we miss the milestones? Skip dinner? Just want to zone out? We feel it. It's like falling, stumbling off the step. Skinned knee, we curse our clumsiness. We just can't get it right.
I have the power to doom my daughter. I have the power to sit her in front of the blindingly bright standard and point out all the ways she falls short, stumbles. I have the power to hold her to this and push on all her soft spots, all the places she doesn't measure up. I might even do this without realizing it. It's so ingrained that I only see it in my disappointment. Why am I disappointed? Why do I even care?
I don't want to doom her, any more than I want to doom myself. I don't want to hold her up to this impossible standard and frighten her with all the ways she fails, any more than I want to spend my life watching myself fall. And I don't have to. The world's bright shining standard is the wrong light. It looks like light at first, like promise, like it can help. But as it blinds, we find that the only promise with it is darkness. The darkness of doubt and discouragement and a wandering way. Thirst. Blindess. Emptiness.
When I think about what I want for my daughter, there is only one thing: for her to know Jesus. I don't care if she ever reads. I don't care if she ever hears my voice. I don't care if she ever even knows I exist, as long as she knows Jesus. I don't care if she sings an opera, only that she sings the beautiful promise of Christ. I don't care if meets all her learning objectives, only that she meets the Savior. I don't care if she shines as a star student, only that she shines the light of Jesus.
She can do this deaf. She can do this without ever saying a word. She can do this with successful cochlear implants and a Summa Cum Laude from Harvard. She can do this spinning on her toes in a tutu on the stage of the Kennedy Center, the lights flicking off her sequins, her hair pulled impossibly tight. She can do this sitting next to me at the dining room table, still living with us as an adult. The world's standard says she will either soar or fall. She will either make it or she won't. She will either be... or she won't be (which missing the mark is often seen as).
But the standard of Jesus offers promise. It says that all those who come to Him weak, all those that know their shortcomings and instead of running from them, run to Him, all those will be healed, will never thirst, will be made whole. Not by earthly standards (though some very blessed people found themselves healed by the hands of Christ and miracles still come today). She will be made whole not by the "fixing" but by the "finishing". The finishing of her work... by Jesus. When she stands next to Christ, knowing Him, trusting Him, proclaiming Him, He becomes her perfection. She gets to smash the glittering, blinding standard of worldly perfection with the unshakeable force of the Cross. And the light that comes from her, that can come from you, from me, isn't a reflection of the blinding impossible but instead a bursting out from within of the light of Peace, Truth, Grace, Love. We shine, not because we have been buffed to perfection, but because we are Loved by Perfection.
It is so hard to shake the world. It wants to jump on your back and cling for dear life and you have to fight it off, hard. But the freedom that comes with letting the world go, letting the standards of the "perfect" life die around you and expose themselves for the lie they are, that freedom is found only in the cross of Christ, the death that created life. And the standard we fix our eyes on is not the one that will doom us, but the one that will free us and truly let us soar, lifting us up on wings that will never fail, will never burn up, will carry us wherever we need to go.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
"Time isn't kind or unkind, you liked to say." And it's true. Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) sings this in a song about a girl he used to love, a beautiful song I highly recommend. It got me thinking on this brand new day of a brand new year. We mark the time in minutes and days and years, and we like to think that new times -- new hours, new days, new years -- hold more kindness. Their fresh cleanliness feels like a promise. And in a way, they do. Plenty of people "poo poo" on New Year's resolutions, but a friend of mine posted this on Facebook: "We KNOW it's not magic; it's MOTIVATION." This brand new day on this brand new year promises nothing more than yesterday's brand new day in yesterday's boring old year. But the newness of today in the newness of this year, while it won't bonk up on the head with its magic wand and make us altogether new, it points our eyes toward change and we should take the opportunity to consider.
Newness catches us in a way that the familiar cannot. It drives the consumerist obsession to buy, buy, buy because when you buy, you acquire something new, something you never had before. We like new notebooks, fresh and clean. We like new babies, full of pretty promises (even though we quickly discover they're mostly full of poop...). We like a sunrise and a strong downbeat and the opening sentence and a new download. We accumulate our new things and new people and new days and new memories and we hoard them like dragons. As parents, we document the first this's and that's and the never-want-to-forgets because this moment was once new and it will become old and we never want to forget the freshness of the start.
Partly, we live this out through our kids because we cannot remember our start. We know ourselves right now, where we are, and maybe we remember some about when we were little, but we forget our beginnings. We know we began and maybe we have parents who can tell us all about it, what we were like or what we did. I apparently exited my mother with my eyes and mouth wide open. I'm not sure anyone who knows me is surprised by this. I will tell my son how he was so snuggly and warm from the minute we met him. I will tell my daughter how her cry was piercing and fierce and then she was calm. They won't remember, but I will. And the start of them means something. It is worth remembering and telling because it began a big, bold, new person.
We can't remember our beginnings but we can begin again today on this new year. We can wash clean and start anew and be the person we've always wanted to be. A skinnier person, a stronger person, a neater person, a smarter person. A better mom, a better teacher, a better prayer, a better you. Perhaps people make resolutions to be crappier in general, but I don't know these people. We realize that, yes, we could start these steps any day at any time we choose. But what a better marker than the marked beginning? We changed when time changed. How appropriate.
We can become new. We can change. But we require a power beyond ourselves. There is a reason we are fatter or weaker or messier or less intelligent than we want to be. There's a reason we can see a need for improvement in our parenting or profession or prayer life. We are missing the mark in some ways. I'm not advocating the kind of self-deprecation that sends you into a well of wallowing misery. But it's true. We fall short in some way and we can see how and where. But do we see why? Do we see how we are broken at our cores, not just at our extremities? Do we see that the source of our need for change is not in our momness or our fatness or our messiness? Do we see that all those things stem straight out from our hearts?
Jesus is the King of new. God says, "Behold, I am making all things new." Don't miss the tense there. He did not say, "Behold, I made all things new" or "Behold, I will make all things new" but... "Behold" -- watch, look, right now -- "I am making all things new." Am making. Right now. Doing it. Look around you and see that God is doing work that brings about change, that brings about newness. In all times and in all places, newness is coming. And through that newness, we can change.
We can't remember our beginnings. We don't remember the void because we weren't there. We don't remember watching the universe form or the earth piece together or the sun appear in the sky -- because we weren't there. We don't remember the dust of the earth rising up and swirling together, a cloud that materialized into man, that became woman -- because we weren't there. But our Father tells us. He tells us how we started, how we were made, how we became. And that beginning is important and worth remembering and worth telling because it began a big, bold, new creation. A creation that God deemed "good" and then with us... "very good". We are His very goods and He is about the business of making us new. This newness, this change, this beginning doesn't appear out of the air to well up inside you and make a whole new you. This change comes from the One who began it all and the One who has the power to make you new.
Think about this in 2014. Think about this when you want to become new. Think about this when you are tempted to beat yourself up or build yourself up. Point your eyes to the One who makes things new and seek to see what is being done, around you and in you in this very moment. Set your eyes on the One who has the newness we all desire. He doesn't promise to fulfill all our New Year's resolutions if we ask nicely. But He does promise transformation in the direction of Him. And this is a change we should desire above all others, a change with a promise and a truth. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God..." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18a)