Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcoming In the New Year

I was sitting on a plane recently when the older woman in the seat next to me wanted to strike up a conversation. Her husband was busied with something else at the window, and I suppose she wanted someone to talk to.

Usually, I am rather amenable to such spontaneous interactions, and at first was happy to oblige. Soon, however, my patience began to wear thin as it came out that I wasn't as happy to oblige as she was happy to keep talking. By the end of the flight, I found myself desperately wishing to get off the plane and run away. This expressed itself in frightfully threadbare responses to anything the woman found to say.

In another recent scene, the air was chilly but the excitements were warm. A small group of us were huddled outside REI, a favorite outdoor store, waiting for the doors to open in a few hours. We had been there for awhile, chatting to pass the time. "We are called to love people," said one, in response to my plane dilemma. "What does it matter if she has issues she needs to work out, is that a prerequisite to speaking with you?" The words pierced me, but they were the confirmation I needed for my suspicions.

How little I have truly understood loving people in 2012.

And how little I still do on the brink of 2013. You see, this poor sweet woman on the plane is just one example of the many people I have steamrolled in my own self-interest, even my dear friends - the awareness of which is uncomfortable in the deepest senses of who I've become. I sense the struggle of my stubborn sinfulness, my clinging pride, but my tired desire to be made right, whole, and good. It is a journey, isn't it? And it is far from over.

So with 2013 rapidly descending upon Tucson, rolling westward with astonishing speed, I have only one main option. New Years resolutions assume a posture of strength: of working harder, trying better, being "resolute" so to speak. But I'm writing today to say that I am coming into 2013 with quite the shocking opposite, a posture that knows finally that I can do nothing on my own. Strength is what I know, weakness what I have come to loath. Pride, after all, is only insecurity all gussied up. But it is God who saves my soul, and it is He that purifies my heart. The truth is that in my weakness, He is made known, not just to others but to me. So this year, I embrace the weakness that embodies all of who I am without Christ.

Paul writes, "What a wretched man I am! Who will save me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24). How I feel those words. Yet Paul knew how to follow them: "Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Happy New Year, friends.

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