We pulled up to my sister’s house, the driveway icy and slick. Our conversation had just begun, pent up words freely spilling in the dark toasty space of the car. My brother’s frustration so deeply echoed my own worst fears, and I wondered truly how people five years apart in age could be struggling with transitions so similar.
I didn’t have the answers. I still don’t.
“But I have to keep believing that this isn’t going to last forever,” I said, gesturing at the winter outside our fogged windows, but also the winter of my own ragged breath and hibernating soul.
For the past week I was deathly ill (deathly meaning I believe the stomach flu can only be described as such) and had little time to accurately look back at the past year and quietly prepare my goals and resolutions for the new start ahead. I was too busy praying that God would relieve me of my stomach’s sorrows.
Having since returned to life recently, I’ve thought about how ringing in the new year is ecstatic and hopeful, full of so much potential you could scream (and generally most of us do when the countdown ends and fireworks erupt).
But also how silly it kinda is to put so much stock in starting over. We quickly forget that the first of the year follows the final double digit day of December when you had sweat stains and forgot to call your mother.
A new year isn’t going to fix those things. Discipline and a good detergent will.
You’re still the same human you were yesterday, and you still have the same amount of choice and hours in the day.
Starting fresh is clean and good, sometimes almost easier. But pulling unwanted albeit necessary lessons from the previous year and instilling them into future days–that’s a challenge worth conquering. That’s something worth smacking the word “resolution” onto and declaring that you’ll commit again and again and again.
Just as days turn into months and months into a whirlwind of a year, so seasons can fly by. It doesn’t feel like it, when winter’s frozen your heart and you forgot the placement of laughter deep in your belly. It feels like darkness is all consuming. It seems like you’ll never make it out with dry eyes and people to call friends.
And yet how easy is it to believe that we can just leave it all behind in last year’s triumphs and trials. If only that first day of the year were as magical as we believe, gyms packed with resolution makers and notepads full of goals.
Last year was a year of realizing that I live very much in the black and white. I don’t know how to operate in a space of gray. It would seem much of the human race lives the same. We become lazy in front of a TV or don’t allow time for leisure in our schedules. We either go to the gym in January or don’t commit at all. I eat three bowls of ice cream, then deprive myself of all things sweet for a week.
This next year, I want to believe two things:
1. This darkness isn’t going to last forever.
Light shines brighter in the darkness, and where there is light, darkness cannot hide. Darkness is deadly but it can also have the dramatic affect of propelling us toward the flickering light that remains. May it not last forever, and may it continue to prepare us for what’s ahead and direct us toward the light.
2. It is possible to live in the gray.
Words like “home” and “open road” can happily coexist in my vocabulary. Right now they don’t–there’s a bit of tension between them–but much less than there was a year ago. Things like exercise and ice cream (in moderate portions) can also coexist. It is possible to find a space between extreme living, and may we choose to take baby steps toward such a challenge.
So while no magic fell with the confetti at midnight this new year’s entrance, and while last year’s struggles are still in the ring with me today, I’m choosing to believe. This isn’t going to last forever.
I desperately hope you don’t need the flu to help you realize such things as I did. I hope you were able to throw confetti with fistfuls of strength and anticipation. But just in case you’re not quite there, know it’s not too late to believe.
We may be a few days into the new year, but you still got time. Pick up a pen and start writing. Say yes to the gym–every month of the year.
Keep battling last year’s anxiety with today’s grace. This isn’t going to last forever; what will you do with the time and colors of this season?
I’d love to hear from you as we move forward together.