Thing is, I wrote this article in the middle of the night about the middle of December, thinking there would be plenty of time to get it ready to post on January 1st. Time was plentiful, but the problem that arose is the reason this post is really, really, incredibly late - you see, I ran into a different kind of writer's block. It wasn't that I didn't know how to write it, because the whole thing was already written out, but I was so close to these thoughts that had been running around in my head for quite some time, that I could not take a far enough step back to look at it and see which parts were too confusing and which repeated themselves and needed to be taken out. When the words were re-read I understood it perfectly, because they had all been turned over and over in my mind and I knew what they meant, even if they weren't very clear, but I know very well that the way I think can sometimes be confusing to other people when I try to explain something. (Just ask my sisters:)
To put it very simply, I knew it was rather confusing and not quite clear and polished enough to post, and I couldn't figure out how to fix it. . . . . . so it got shelved in an attempt to let me step away and clear my thoughts before coming back to it. After a couple months of not even looking at it, I opened it up and decided it needed to be finished, even if the year is almost half over I was determined to get it published, otherwise it might never find its way here.
Of course, after all that work trying to get it untangled I realized I should have just posted it the way it was and give you a very real glimpse of what it is like inside my brain!
Approach of a New Year
The years seem to slip by faster with each one that passes. They come and go with a regular rhythm that we have come to expect, simply living our lives and giving the old year a polite nod as it fades away, replaced with the new one to come.
Resolutions are made to fill this New Year that spreads before us, all glistening and crisp. Within us is the hope that perhaps this year will be different.
Certain words are passed around a lot during the approach of a new year:
“A new year is coming! We can start fresh.”
“Begin with a clean slate.”
“Things will be different.”
Perhaps they will be different. As a matter of fact, of course they will be different, but it doesn’t mean that you will not remember what came in the months before that seemingly magical day of January 1st.
I was thinking about it recently, lapsing into one of those philosophical moods I get now and again. And for some reason my mind focused on the particular view (my interpretation of it,that is) that every new year is empty, allowing a new beginning.
Yes, you can change in the year to come, you can promise and work toward making things different. But there is nothing empty about it.
I began first by doing something that isn’t quite what one would expect. Instead of looking forward, to examine and speculate about what might come in the New Year, I looked back. The Old Year stretched behind me, a rough and crumpled map of everything that had come into my life in the last twelve months.
Landmarks could be seen, some more obvious than others as they were picked out. The joys; the triumphs, small as they had been; the adventures and the wonders shared with loved ones; as well as the hurt, sorrow, and tears that arrive at some point in everyones lives.
These things will not be simply forgotten when I look at the calendar and realize the time to remember them has ‘passed’. No matter how faded and worn they become they will be with me always, because my history is a part of my life.
You live; you make memories; you make mistakes; and in the making you learn and grow, becoming the person you are now.
There are things I would rather have avoided, but there they are and there they remain. I have changed because of them, and that alone will have a hand in shaping the way the New Year affects me. Because I have been changed the New Year is changed for me as well. I will never know how it would have turned out, had things in the Old Year been different.
Sometimes I wish we had the option of retrospect before hand, which, I suppose, would technically be foresight.
The initial thought is that things would be so much easier if you just knew what was coming. Wouldn’t we all, at times, have liked to know what was to happen? If only to be better prepared to deal with it when it arrived?
Yet we aren’t supposed to know that. If we could see what was coming, what would be the point of living our lives? We would not learn from our mistakes, because we would see what would happen, shrug our shoulders, and say what was to be would be, no matter what we did. So we would waffle through the year doing the same, mundane tasks, letting time ripple through our fingers, and never learn a single lesson.
As I look forward into the New Year it seems starkly empty, in comparison with what now lays behind me, the memories of the year that has just taken its last breath. Yet when that year began it looked just as fresh and empty.
While pondering the meaning of a New Year another thought occurred:
It isn’t empty.
It is full, completely and utterly full of things that we can not yet see. There will be people brought into our lives; perhaps some will stay, perhaps some will appear for a short time. Everyday events will catch our attention and require action. Choices will have to be made, and results dealt with.
Next was considering just what the phrase ‘A Clean Slate’ meant.
While the idea is a nice one to think about, repeated over and over until we believe it, the carrying out of such a thing is nigh impossible. How can you enter into a New Year with a clean slate? Of course you can go into it with the determination of changing, but events of the passing year will not just disappear as though they had never been.
Choices that you made, and the results that followed them, will cling to you, paying no heed to the boundary that seems to be set between the Old Year, and the New Year. They won’t simply let go and wave goodbye when you cross over that threshold. No, they will hold tighter and accompany you, continuing to influence your actions.
To begin with a new slate rather sounds as though the previous lessons you learned will be wiped away, leaving room for new ones to enter, but everything will still be there when January 1st comes along.
The result of all these musing is that I don’t think that it is quite correct to say you are beginning another year anew. It is continuing the journey you have been set upon. You bring with you all the lessons and struggles that you have already been through, and the things you have learned in dealing with them. Even those problems that are tucked away in the back of your mind that, perhaps, you have been ignoring.
It isn’t a clean slate, for that speaks of wiping everything away and beginning completely from scratch. No, it is simply the beginning of a new chapter. Full of possibilities and the chance to continue to grow and learn. To become the person that you would like to be. To allow God to continue to shape and mould you through the circumstances and events that will come into your life.
There will be more mistakes, more triumphs, more struggles, more joys, and more sorrows in this New Year. Not to take place of the old ones, but to settle in alongside of them.
But our Heavenly Father will be right there with us, holding our hand and encouraging us into this new chapter. He will guide us if we let Him; discipline us when we need it; teach us when we forget we do not know as much as we think we do; and rejoice with us when we achieve wonderful things, no matter how small they might be.
He will never leave us during this New Year.
Just like He never left us as we traveled through the Last.