The winter wind has been growling every night, growling at the dark, slamming against the windows. Rattling the house. And rattling us.
This is the way the New Year might come for some of us. It can slam us hard. Rattle us to the bone.
Before I flip the page on the calendar, the New Year reminds me of promises I made last year. And broke. Rosy self-promises can shatter into a thousand, metal-gray shards, weeks before the groundhog checks his shadow.
You know the ones–
How you promised to read the Bible in the year, but only made it to 2 Kings. How you vowed to lose ten pounds but gained five. You may have even written it all down, making your pen a chisel. And a desperate prayer. How you wanted to write a book, run a 5K, serve meals to the lonely every week.
God knows you tried hard, but life happened, and February came, and there were all these piles of dishes and laundry, and a parent who got sick, and legitimate excuses, and a teenage son who slams doors too hard, and too many restless nights staring at the slow whir of a ceiling fan.
And where did that list go again?
The New Year taunts with a question: Do you even remember what you promised a year ago?
Every New Year stretches out in front of us — and most of us have no idea what’s ahead. The possibilities are endless in the coming months — countless possibilities of great joy or immense sadness. Which way will it all go? We don’t know what might derail our lives … or what beautiful surprises might sweep us off our feet.
Life is a marble cake — with joy and sadness all mixed in to the batter, to make the pattern of our days. You don’t have all joy, all the time. But thanks be to God, we aren’t stuck with all sadness either. We need God, someone to thank in the good, and someone to lean on during the bad.
But it’s a hard cake to chew sometimes, this life on planet Earth.
The New Year will tell you that you can have your cake, and eat it, too. It will tell you that the real trick to a better you is to try harder, work faster, get skinnier, dig deeper in your pockets.
And while you toil, the New Year crouches out on the wind, waiting to slam you again the next time you flip the page from December to January. You look at the pounds you didn’t lose, the debt you didn’t chip away, the cigarettes on your dashboard.