It is literally an obsession this time of year.
From gut-busting exercise plans to complete financial makeovers, I am surrounded by people on a frantic mission to find life’s reset button.
Honestly, I’m as guilty as the next guy who gets swept up in leaf-turning, resolution-making and goal-setting while Times Square is ball-dropping.
As if “starting over” erases the blackboard and issues a new piece of chalk.
But the problem with reset mode is it tends to be all-inclusive. I am prone to throw babies and bath water out in the same fell swoop.
The contemplative mood of a year’s last days makes it easy to look back with both gratitude and regret. And I should.
On one hand, some really great things have occurred.
For my family there was an idyllic wedding for our only daughter and the birth of two beautiful babies for our two sons. I reflect on those and many other moments of blessing with a thankful heart overwhelmed by joy.
But there are also moments I wish had never happened.
- Unkind words spoken.
- Shallow judgments made.
- Poor decisions enacted.
- Meaningful relationships strained.
- Empty pleasures pursued.
For each new life that came into our world, others left too soon. In every chance taken, there were real opportunities missed. With each celebration, there have been offsetting losses. Beside each promise fulfilled, some hope was dashed.
Victories were gained, but high prices were paid for each. Exhilarating triumphs rode on the backs of exhausting struggles.
The temptation of the New Year is to close the book on those less-than-epic chapters and just “move on”.
Wipe them clean. Reformat the drive. Breathe a sigh of relief that they are over. Set a new goal, find a new direction or act on fresh resolve.
But if I too quickly dismiss the past in a fit of restartitis, I will miss the shaping truth buried in the rubble of failure, the ruins of betrayal and the wreckage of loss.
Sure, I need to forgive where I have been hurt, correct where I have been wrong and change course when I have gotten lost. That’s a no-brainer.
But my history is also His mystery. An unfolding plan written with my life while hidden from my eyes.
- Every scar is a story.
- Each wound is a word.
No matter how it hurt, there has always been hope.
In all my reflection and the accompanying resolutions of this season, I desperately want to remember:
Scraps of cloths destined for the landfill are seamed together by a quilter whose eyes are the only ones that can see the beauty before the finished product is revealed.
My life is not a series of new beginnings after seasons of pain, loss or failure. I don’t have to begin again…and again, and again…like a reset button stuck on repeat.
The only reset button ever needed was the one pushed in Bethlehem at the moment the entire world just finished celebrating.
When God turned that page in history, all the old stories with their sagas of sorrow and tales of tragedy were swallowed up in the larger plot of the Father making “all things new” by working “all things together” for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
That was the only new beginning I will ever need. The do-over to end all do-overs.
With that restart, everything changed. And since that moment each of my…
- Pains have purpose.
- Sorrows have significance.
- Messes have meaning.
I no longer need a discard pile for the lousy cards I may feel life has dealt in my hand.
God proved once and for all that he held the trump card in the high stakes game called life. He is always up to something that has bigger payoffs than my losses. Each set-back is a potential set-up when God is playing over my shoulder.
What He sees in what I close my eyes to is beauty in a pile of ashes.
As the Master Quilter, He sees he beauty long before anyone else can. He seamlessly weaves the fabric of my life, even with all its imperfect miss-matches, into something that will make perfect sense in the end.
So this New Year’s Eve, as I think of the changes I can make to put myself in a better state of living, I don’t need to plaster over my paint-by-number failures.
God has never seen a yesterday He cannot use tomorrow.