Let me first say that to me, the rubicon that New Years provides, is not restricted to your first waking moments of 2010. As a grace-centered person, I believe in a New Year month, not just a New Year day. I think we need a bit more than one day to firm up our resolutions and commitment to our personal change and betterment of the world. It’s gonna take a bit of a ramp up to altering the trajectory of your life. So if you falter at first with your new year resolution or haven’t quite solidified what you’d change in this New Year, take hope, there’s still time! But also keep in mind…it’s not going to be easy!
This past fall I finally got a job. I had been unemployed for about 5 months, so I eagerly accepted this position when it was offered to me. I was going to help loft beds in dorm rooms on college campuses. Going into it, I knew it was going to be hard, and labor intensive work. But I was desperate and glad to be doing anything. Over the next two months I worked nearly every day, sometimes 12 hours a day repeatedly lifting and carrying heavy pieces of metal and wood, carrying them up multiple flights of stairs and putting them together. Because I was nearly destitute, my meals literally consisted of peanut butter sandwiches. I was fortunate that often the company would provide lunch and sometimes dinner. But because I was so tired from working, I didn’t eat that much. At the end of that season of work, I discovered that I had shed 20 lb.s from my body. I didn’t notice it happening at the time but in the end I was stronger (my biceps are huge, just ask me and I’ll show you!) and I am thinner than I had been in years.
Now, if I had chosen to lose 20 lb.s in two months through some self-initiated exercise program, there is no way that I would have succeeded. Why? Because I honestly would not have submitted myself to the effort and exertion that would have been required to see those results. You see I had to work. I had to provide for my daughters, so not working wasn’t an option.
My point is this, transformation of any kind is hard work. It will always be harder than you think, take longer than you planned and require more effort than you intend to give. You see it is at that point of quitting, the place of quitting where growth occurs. Whether it is learning a language, breaking a habit, changing your body or changing your heart. The same can be said of us spiritually. We too often are quick to abandon our spiritual pursuit in the face of difficulty and suffering. We are a people who have no differentiation between pain and discomfort. Pain is a warning that something is wrong. Discomfort is the withdrawal from pleasure. So when we are moved upon in such away and our desire for pleasure is compromised or denied – we flee to greener pastures and thus deny our selves the opportunity of growth that we long for and need to be healthy and happy people. If we refuse to push our bodies beyond the comfort we are accustomed, we will develop soft and flabby frames. If we rescue our children from every life struggle and school yard scuffle, we will produce spoiled and weak kids. If we resist the divine calls to change and grow into the people we are called to be, we will continue to have stagnant and dull spirits. And if we recoil from those in pain around us because it causes us discomfort, well we’ll continue to have the world we already have.
So brace yourself. The New Year is upon us. Change won’t be easy, but it won’t be worth anything unless it costs you something.