I always get a bit excited about the time period between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. This is when I start to get ready for change. Serious change. It's not that I start making my New Year's Resolutions, but rather, I start contemplating what I have achieved this past year, where I have been, and where I have gone wrong. By the time New Year's Day comes, I want to enter the New Year not with a spectacular set of new year's resolutions but with a sparkling clean mind set- one where I have cleared out old archaic thought patterns and outdated beliefs that do not serve me well.
This has been a silky smooth vacation week, for some reason. Not only have family get-togethers been relatively smooth and clear sailing, but everything seems to be set in a slow motion setting where the days are calm, lingering, and soft and quiet.
Not that it has been quiet, literally. It hasn't. We had a bunch of teens here the other night, with large pizza boxes and wings all over the place. Harry stole a few paper plates off the table and was about to get the platter of wings when Bill caught him. I think Harry felt guilty and upset for one single moment, and then that moment passed.
While my son and his friends were downstairs watching a movie, Bill, Abby and I watched one upstairs in our bedroom. It was a light romantic comedy- nothing earth shattering in meaning. But there were themes in the movie that resonated with me. The main character was a lawyer, trying to take a stand for just causes; trying to make her parents proud of her as well. She also was falling in love with someone who seemed shallow, silly, and centered on nothing but the inane details of life. He seemed that way- till her eyes were opened, and she saw he had learned to care, learned to give sacrificially ...learned to love.
Usually character doesn't change that radically, habits don't change that fast. But in a movie they can and they do. The question is how much of our life is really like these movies we watch.
I asked Bill this morning if he thought I had grown much this year, if I had changed much- changed for the better. He sipped his coffee, scratched the dog's head, and answered that yes, I had changed. But he always sees me a step ahead of where I actually am.
When he and I first dated, I was angry about undercurrents of abuse and dysfunction that I had seen in the Church at large, scared of my volatility and emotional compass, adamant that I was not going back to any part of me that walked in subservience to any coercion. He looked at me and saw passion for truth, emotional integrity, and resolution to walk in freedom.
The thing is, I think he has changed the most. When I met him, he seemed jolly and funny, light hearted and good natured, stable and strong. He is all that, still, except the jolly and light hearted part. While he provides our family with enough light hearted bantering and silly joke telling, he is not that same young man with a confident "can do" attitude and the self assurance that goes with thinking you will accomplish, always, what you have set out to do. He is rather sober minded, now; quieter. I don't remember when I first saw him taking that turn into thoughtful, quiet loving and living.
I'm the one who has become a bit more silly and carefree, at times. I still don't tell jokes but I do love to laugh, more than I ever have before. While I'm still a realist, I'm also a bit of an optimist, now- and that was never the case before. I'm becoming an optimist partially because I want to be one, and I never wanted to be one before. The older I get, the more I see that I can be surprised by God, by the hand of God. I'm delighting in God taking delight in me. He rejoices over me with singing, as it says in Zephaniah 3:17.
God has always moved in my life, but I have not always credited Him with the best of intentions. This year, at the close of this year, I want to look back and see all the places where God showed up, all the tell tale signs that He moved mightily in my life. I want to rehearse the good, dwell on the victorious moments, while not denying the places where I fell down.
So before I make my New Year's Resolutions, I want to see this past year with eyes wide open. Before I say good-bye to 2007, I want to reach out and take what I have learned, take it with me, into this new year ahead of me. I'm taking the joy of the journey, with me; I'm bringing the attitude of a conqueror and overcomer, with me. I'm doing this, by faith- because I still don't see myself as a strong, overcoming woman- but I know God does.
So I'm looking upward as I look back on the year, asking God what else I should know and remember- so that I can go....forward.