Friday, December 29, 2017

New Years Preparation


As we arrive at the threshold of a New Year, take a moment to ponder prayerfully this past year.  Hold the events, encounters, and experiences in the palm of your hand.  I pray as you do, you might know that you are being held in the palm of God's hand.  As you rewind and remember, think first about those moments of great joy.

For me it was our family vacations; a retreat in South Carolina, baking cookies with my daughter, connecting with church members in meaningful ways, Sunday morning worship, moments when I felt the warmth calmness, and times when I saw/felt/heard more than a trace of God's grace.

Linger here on the moments of joy...it is so easy to want to rush to the resolutions.  We can take the turn to negative too quickly.  So, sit and stay awhile in the good.  Maybe even go back and keep adding to the list, especially as we now turn to starting to process the pain from the last year.

Because we often carry with us the anger, anxiety, annoyances, brokenness, hurt, and harm for ages past.  Over the years, these weigh down the luggage of our life.  Over the years, these can (whether intentional or unintentionally) crowd out the space where we might otherwise carry the grace and good in life.  Yet, we do need to name, notice, and negotiate our way through the struggles/strive.  Most wisdom teachers tell us that even the pain has something to teach us.  Yet, we are quick to race, run through the valleys where the shadows loom large.  We are quick to cover up our hurt with the word, "I'm fine" (usually said unconvincingly with exasperation that at once wants both the person asking to drop it and for that person to dive in deeper to help us when we feel like we are drowning).  So where is that kind of stuff rummaging and roaming around your life?

For me there is both an external and internal declension here.  External in the difficulties I have in turning on the news or in relationships or scars from the words of others that won't heal.  And those external parts seep and soak into my soul along side the perfectionism drive and what Kent Dobson often describes as the "loyal soldier syndrome" ~ where we are continually trying to please others.  Together this can be an intoxicating cocktail of daily life.

Again sit with this.  But not like a scale.  Too often we want to say the good outweighs the bad or keep adding to the good side to tilt the scale that way.  Or too often we are quick to judge which side of our list ~ the good or the bad ~ has more items there as if life was about keeping score.  Just sit with this past year.  When you are ready ask the question ~

What do you have to teach me?

Listen. 

Breathe and be.

Listen for more than a trace of God's grace.

Listen.

Amen.

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