Happy New Year

(I am terrible at titles. I realize this post should have a more original one, but who can think up good titles at quarter to 2 in the morning?)

So here we are, the end of one year, the start of another — more significantly, perhaps, the end of one decade, the start of another. There are two incongruous ways of observing the new year, often observed by the same people. One is to reflect and resolve. The other is to go out and get so drunk you won’t remember the new year by the time it gets here.

Now, I’ve grown up in a Christian milieu, so nobody I know actually goes out and gets that drunk (or drunk at all). But these two approaches– approaches to the end of one timespan and the beginning of another, good-bye to the Previously Unknown Now Known and the Still Unknown and Hence Scary If Exciting —  say a lot about the way we treat life, and the way life treats us. Our resolutions indicate that we believe life has meaning, a measure of predictability, and the ability to be influenced by our choices. Our partying indicates that life is completely out of our hands and all we can really do is have fun and try not to worry.

So what’s the reality? Perhaps both. When I look over the last ten years, what stands out most is all the stuff I didn’t expect. Relationships, moves, a new career, twists in the plot that I couldn’t and didn’t expect. Even sad parts, like deaths and bouts with depression. But when I look at my life now, I also see the slow influence of my own choices shaping who I am and how I deal with the things life throws my way.

This is the paradox in which we live. We can’t predict or control life, yet that doesn’t let us off the hook of personal responsibility for a second. That’s actually a very Christian paradox: we believe God made us, shaped us, and directs events, yet we also believe we’re responsible to live in faith and obedience.

If I had to pick a life scripture for this year, this one, which I read two days ago and have been stewing about since, might be it:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Happy New Year, everyone. May it be a good year, a fruitful one, full of surprises and full of choice.






One response to “Happy New Year”

  1. Mimi Avatar

    Happy New Year (: Have a great 2010.

    And I do agree: God gave us free will, although he knows exactly what we will do. Isn’t that funny?

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