It’s okay if things change, if things change in a way I think is okay.
It’s funny to look back and measure the time between our most desperate cries and the upcoming thing we never knew would save us. I think of all the people who have given up on this world, jumped off a bridge or crowned themselves with consequences because their hope got lost, and wonder…how close were they? A day away? A month? A year or two? Maybe just an hour. An hour, and everything would have changed.
Change. We crave it. We hate it. It’s uncomfortable. It’s necessary. It’s exciting. It’s sad. Our perception of control and chaos topple over one another, and if there’s any celebration as conflicting and similar to this concept of change, it’s New Year’s.
365 days behind, chalk-full of extraordinary surprises and mundane sighs. 365 days ahead, clean and waiting to be filled. We spend the hours before the clock changes reflecting on these things, or avoiding reflection altogether. Sharing resolutions, or swearing them off. Feeling very connected, but also very alone. And I have observed that the way we spend these moments leading up to this transition in time says a lot about who we are, and who we want to be.
Most of us start the New Year with simultaneous desire for certain things to change and other things to stay the same. As I once wrote in a poem, It’s okay if things change, if things change in a way I think is okay. It’s a very human thing, to crave both the temporary and the permanent, and to struggle with the tension between the two. And New Year’s is a recurring reminder that there will be accumulation, and there will be loss. Some of this will fall under our control, and some of it will not. For some people, this cues feelings of stagnating anxiety or defiance to the mere concept of change, so much that their spirits, lives, minds, hearts, bodies, relationships, surroundings, etc., come to a suffocating standstill.
I want to talk about fear for a moment. Fear is instinctive, programmed into our bodies to protect us. But we were also created for an existence much more complex than that.
“Do not be afraid” appears in the Bible over 300 times. Some believe it’s in there exactly 365 times. I believe this is no accident.
Moses, Mary, the Twelve, Jesus…the Bible is loaded with valid reasons to be fearful, and a God encouraging us not to be. We see that it’s okay to be afraid; but it’s not okay to allow fear to dictate your response.
When we don’t take time to properly evaluate our fear, and train ourselves to respond in a logical and faithful way, fear–an initial protector–quickly becomes obstructive, and destructive.
Fear of transience, fear of risk, fear of failure, fear of pain…this is what will trap you. Bind you. Rob you. Dictate your decisions. Oppress you, depress you, and break you when something external changes, and your internal structure is too delicate to handle it.
What I want people to know is that defying fear has a lot less to do with personality type than it does choice. Everyone has gifts. Everyone has desires. Everyone has curiosities and resources to explore their purpose. Everyone has the ability to be ambitious. The only difference between the elitist and the defeatist is the choice made to exercise ambition in spite of discomforts prompted by condition, circumstance, or fear.
I’ve come to realize that the most important and beautiful things, the things that cause overflow, are also the things that scare us the most.
Trying something new. Doing the right thing, even when it’s the hard thing. Falling in love. Taking a new job. Raising a child. Letting God crash over us.
I believe every single one of us is being called to courage this year. This day. Every day, every year, no matter the circumstance.
Experience. Grow. Ask questions. Meet new people. Do your best. Work your hardest. Feel. Rest. Decide, in the morning, who you’re going to be that day. “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” Be dynamic. Exercise self-discipline. Accept. Improve. Trust.
God’s directions don’t always make sense. We aren’t always gifted with evidential progress, and yes, it is difficult to press forward when there isn’t a clock on the wall promising one more day, one more hour. But faith is stronger than all the uncertainty. God is not a God of fear, or of failure, but of faith.
Every day, God is doing something new. Look for it. Appreciate it, or fearlessly persevere, for now. Because one day, in an hour, everything will change.
Happy 2016, everybody. And thanks for two years of successful blogging.