Looking Back, Looking Forward.
It’s what we do this time of year. The holidays bring us together with family and friends. We find ourselves cataloging who sent us greeting cards this year, what gifts we gave, who hosted the last Christmas dinner, and whose turn it is to host the SuperBowl party. The children are older, but they seem to already have the latest gadgets. The old folks are …us…when did that happen? Between preparing meals and packing up decorations, we pause to rewind a few photos and find tears welling up in our eyes as we laugh at the clothing we thought so cool and remember the moments we now realize were allowed to pass too quickly.
Time and Life magazines, USAToday and the TVGuide channel will rehearse the best and worst of the past year. The broadcasts will give us permission to demonize those whose political affiliations are different from our own, while raising our concern regarding national security, the global economy, and local eduction. Some will alert us to those who suffer in poverty, before inserting a commercial teasing us to upgrade to digital cable with additional movie channels. Between celebrity meltdowns, sports scandals, and divorce drama, we will be reminded of earthquakes, tsunamis, overthrown dictators, and market crashes. We will remember where we were when…and start conversations that recall relatives, friends, neighbors, and teachers who have stepped from this life to life eternal. And we we begin to make promises to ourselves this next year we will be different.
We will be different. But not in the magnanimous ways we imagine. Our January diets will be attacked by Valentine’s Day chocolate. Our recommitment to timeliness will be thwarted by an extra-long email that we pause to read or a cellphone call we take while remaining parked at the curb. Our pledge to study more will be forgotten as we accept one more Wii-challlenge or read one more Facebook update. Our efforts to feed the hungry, visit the sick, or support a charity will be forgotten after one Habitat weekend, writing a single check, or one youth sponsored spaghetti dinner. And this time next year, we will make the same promises, with the same earnestness, and the same short-lived commitments.
If you recognize this pattern, dare I suggest you look back for something different. The best moments and fondest memories rarely were planned, organized, and designed. The pictures that captured the funniest moments were not posed. The most significant changes resulted from our response to things external to our control. Our best efforts in public mirror are habits from home. Who are you? Look back. A consideration of who you are might impact what you do more that deciding who you want to become. Looking forward from this vantage point can take a whole lot of pressure off some of our promises, resolutions, and extreme makeover commitments.
Living with integrity is not always easy in a society that says we need one more device, another outfit, and to switch telephone carriers one more time. Look back at who you are: a daughter or son, a sibling, a spouse; A neighbor, co-worker, friend; the stranger in the grocery line, the person sitting in the restaurant booth, the guest in a hotel. Remember, what it means to be Christian is simply to be like Christ. Humanity was created to be reflections of the the Creator. Our very personhood is the opportunity to be a glimpse of the glory of God right where we are – a home, school, or office. Everything else is consequential.
Looking forward, instead of a major overhaul, what if you make one resolution each day for the next year. A single undertaking, that you recommitment to when you awaken each morning for the next year. Make it something that can expand to every aspect of your life, so you can achieve it whether you are driving the kids to school, or standing in a grocery line. Something that requires an authentic expression in every facet of your existence. Make a tangible decision that impacts what movies you will see, and the books you read; what jokes you laugh at, and who they tease; how you spend your money, on what; what meals you prepare, for whom; how often you work late, and why. Each day, for the next year, what if we simply tried to be what we already are and see how God can be glorified through our lives. Instead of being driven by the commercials, what if today our goal is to be a commercial for God.