New Year’s Eve has always been an enigmatic celebration to me. While I understand the turning of the year and people’s need to mark it and celebrate it, it’s never felt quite as significant to me as it does to others and, maybe, as it should.
I prefer constant assessment and course corrections over annual resolutions. If I don’t have enough self-awareness to keep tabs on things throughout the year, I don’t feel quite up to speed. Considering the percentage of resolutions that end up on the trash heap within the first month or so, it never seemed incredibly important to me.
I do appreciate thoughtful processing done with trusted friends. As I get older, I find myself gravitating towards these meaningful conversations. What’s the purpose of an unexamined life?
I heard it expressed multiple times as we moved towards the turning of the year that people couldn’t believe that it had been 20 years since Y2K. Thinking back to the significance (or insignificance) of that, it was much ado about nothing. That seems to be the case with so many things though, let’s hype it up only to find out that it wasn’t as big of a deal as we thought it would be.
As I sat around a circle of family listening to everyone talk about their last ten years, it was a new experience for my wife to take the lead when it came to our turn. Usually, I’m the one who talks and she fills in everything that I miss. This time though, she led the way and it was really good for me to hear it.
As the words spilled from her mouth and she described the difficulties of this last decade, it was affirming to me to realize how I wasn’t alone, how she had felt what I had felt as deeply. When I lost my parents, she felt it. When we were part of a church split, she felt is. When I struggled towards the finish line of seminary, she felt it. When our last child was born just two months after my mom died, she felt it.
Sometimes, taking a look back to see just where you’be been can be so helpful. It reminds us of just how far we’ve come, what we’ve conquered, what we’ve endured. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Looking over the past decade, it seems that it’s easy to see a few near misses along the way.
No resolutions for me, just to continue to press on in obedience. I want to make the most of the days ahead. I want to make a difference, to feel like what I am doing is significant. I want to leave a legacy, one that points to Jesus so that my children’s children’s children can know what was most important to me.
Good-byes get harder as time goes by, or maybe I’ve just become more sentimental. 15 years ago, I had no children. My wife and I were living in Asheville, North Carolina and we had flown to Wilmington for my aunt’s funeral. Funerals can bring families together, which is good, but the circumstances around that reuniting are certainly not ideal.
As my parents dropped us off at the airport, I remember embracing my mom as the tears began to flow. Although I would have her around for another seven years, the frequency of our times together would vary. But there was a palpable sense that every good-bye seemed more significant and important. It could be the last good-bye, or among the last.
Those same feelings rise up as we leave behind our family after visiting with them over the holidays. Those good-byes just feel heavier to me and I find my emotions rising up as the day approaches when we’ll head home once again.
I am grateful for yesterday as I look forward to tomorrow. I’m not guaranteed the one and I can’t change the other. All I can do is the best that I can do.
So, I’ll wake up and keep pressing on. Today is a new day. Tomorrow will be as well. New days will add up to weeks and months and years.
May the new day hold new opportunities. May we look back at yesterday not with regret but with a posture of learning, both what we did right and what we did wrong. Not so that we can feel guilt or remorse, but so that we can course correct to make sure we don’t duplicate the missteps of yesterday today.