The second day of the New Year was the last day of winter break. Since we had been traveling and visiting family during the holidays, we were excited to spend a full day in our pjs, watching movies. We had the movies all picked out, starting with what my kids call “Stage Encanto” (Or Encanto at the Hollywood Bowl on Disney+). Clearly, we needed to start the New Year with a 10th viewing.
At 8am, we were snuggled in. Jammies. Coffee. Apple juice. Cheerios. Mirabel was singing about “waiting for a miracle.” Then poof.
The power went out.
With movie day gone, we thought this was an opportunity for a different kind of family day. We pulled out our new LEGO sets from Santa, spread out the bricks on the dining room table, and started to build.
It was fun. For a while… Let’s just say: attempting a LEGO set for the 12+ age range with a 5+ child and a 3+ child is interesting. Miss 5+ had completed a LEGO FRIENDS Set (for 6+) the night before and was therefore convinced she could do this one herself. Inevitably, when it became hard, she stomped around the house, took some pieces, and hid behind the pantry. Mr. 3+ wanted to help build, so sat on my knee flailing his octopus-arms about, grabbing pieces too small for his little hands, and accidentally knocking them on the floor, one after another, after another, after another. Which led to more yelling from Miss 5+ about her brother’s inability to build the LEGO.
At 41+, I sat drinking the last drops of now cold coffee which could not be replenished. No more coffee. No movies. Just crazed children at the end of Christmas break …all…day… long. So I did the only reasonable thing possible: I kicked them both off the project. Because let’s face it, “Mrs. Claus” bought the Disney Mini Castle Lego for herself, anyway.
It was fun. For a while … until I couldn’t find a small single white brick. I looked through all the piles, in the bags, in the box, and on the floor. It was nowhere. I rummaged through all the pieces, muttering under my breath and demanding the children come back and find the piece they had *clearly* knocked somewhere.
That’s when Miss 5+, frustrated with me, walked over to the table. Her young eyes scanned the pieces. She plucked the single white brick right out of the pile.
“You’re just not looking at it right,” she said, rolling her eyes at me.
I’m just not looking at it right.
It was there all along. I wasn’t looking at it right.
It made me wonder what else I’m not looking at right. What do I need to mull over, to turn around, to reconsider, to let go of? As we change our calendars from 2022 to 2023, we enter into a time of discernment. A time of renewal. A time of evaluation. A time for fresh starts. A time for asking: what do I need to look at differently?
I am a preacher of new life and a person of hope. However, I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps it’s because we seem to make resolutions we have no intention of keeping: diets, exercise, healthy eating, and cleanliness. For me (and this could just be me), those kinds of resolutions feel life-draining instead of life-giving. They feel like more tasks to take on to an already taxed-out schedule. Is this really what new life looks like?
On New Years’ Day, my husband was cheery about the new year and a fresh new start. He hugged me and said: “New Year! New Us!” I responded: “Oh sure, but it’s still all the same.” That’s one of those comments my mouth says before my brain thinks it over. So, he’s fully within his rights to tease me as a New Year’s downer. (I am sorry for being a killjoy).
Yet, I didn’t intend it the way I blurted out. I simply meant that a change of a calendar doesn’t mean our lives are any different than they were yesterday … and there’s nothing wrong with that. For, yesterday, I was loved and hugged and cared for and listened to and fed. Yesterday, I was frustrated and tired and confused and upset and a little bit anxious. Yesterday, I laughed. Yesterday, I cried. Yesterday, I was joyful. Yesterday, I was worried. Yesterday, I breathed in and out, and out and in. Yesterday, I loved my family more than I ever thought possible. Yesterday God loved me more than I ever thought possible.
Today, I get to experience those things over again. Every day, I get to wake up and be a mom, a wife, and a pastor . Every day, I get to experience the beautiful and the sorrowful. Every day, I get to live out hope and fear. Every day, I get to remind us all of whose we are. For, if we are children of God, then what new thing do we really need?
This this year, I’m looking at it differently. Just like that single LEGO brick, everything I need has been here all along. … even if its scattered all about. For life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Instead, we use the pieces we are given, and make do. Some of our pieces are in the wrong boxes. Some of our pieces have fallen off. Some are missing entirely. Some may have even been grabbed by octopus arms or hidden behind the pantry. Yet, some fit together just right. Some interlock after a lot of contemplation and hard work. Some are rediscovered after much searching. Some, still, are surprising additions we never expected.
Each life set comes with its own joyful triumphs and its own difficulties. A good 6+ set can feel manageable, while a 16+ set feels too large to tackle alone. A 30+ set tries to build in a new direction, while a 50+ set enjoys the splendor of what’s been built.
Maybe we’ve not been looking at it right. Maybe, we don’t need something new, we just need to know that our lives are blessed just as they are … because of whose we are.
In this new year, it’s okay to be the same you. For no matter what surprises 2023 brings, our God remains by our side. Here’s to a New Year with the Same You and a Surprising God.