“So this is the New Year, and I don’t feel any different… So this is the New Year, and I have no resolutions. No self assigned penance, for problems with easy solutions.” -Ben Gibbard
If I’m honest I knew that magic of New Years was nothing more than that. Most years I can see it for what it is; just another day. But this year I allowed myself to believe that it held something sacred. I felt like Dorothy approaching the wizard, surrounded by clanking glasses and kissing couples I felt as though there might be something there this year. Some magic moment that would deliver just what I needed. But just as quickly as that moment came so did the one following it. I had stood amazed at the wizard just long enough to be distraught at seeing the man behind the curtain. As with those in Oz who wanted something from their wizard, I wanted something from mine. I wanted a silver bullet with which to put down all that I no longer wanted within me…thoughts, memories, pain, all of it. I wanted it gone, and I had hoped that somehow changing the numbers on the end of a calendar would do it.
I hoped that I would wake up on January 1st and just feel different. “New Year, New Me.” Or some shit like that, though I would never say anything of the sort out loud. I wanted to wake up having regained the discipline that I had lost over the past few months. I wanted the wars which raged within my heart to be easily won, and the thoughts which still at times cause me to loose sleep to have become somehow silly. But like every other day, and every other New Year’s Day, I woke up still broken.
I let myself begin to look at numbers on a calendar and told myself that when they change so will I, magically and in an instant. I knew that this was a lie. I knew that none of this was true, but that didn’t stop me from hoping in it, believing it. So often I know that something isn’t true, but so often I want to believe it so badly that I allow myself to, until the revelation of what I knew all along hurts me deeper than it would have should I have believed the truth at the start. It’s a different year and yet demons in my head and ghosts in my heart still haunt me. They call me to look to this moment and this one alone. For if all we have is today what point is undertaking the discipline needed to change. But any hope of a silver bullet is a lie; it’s a cowardice that does not desire the early morning reading and late night prayer needed for true, lasting change to come about.
So often I want to believe that I should be somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else. And if I am honest I believe that I should be somewhere better, doing something better. And it is in those moments, if I dare to be honest, that I know that what lies under all else is a mistrust of the gospel. It is in those times that I can believe that Jesus knows enough to save me, but not enough to care for me. I can easily have faith that He is with everyone one else, in their story. I can look to anyone else and believe that Christ is with them and working on their behalf and for their good. But when I look at myself, when I examine the deep places in my heart, I believe that lie that maybe I’ve become too broken for anything truly good. I know what Jesus has promised me, but so often I begin to believe the lie that Jesus loves some past or future version of me and not who I am right now. “Maybe if I had been better, or tried harder” echoes within my soul.
But in thinking these things I am admitting that in those moments I no longer believe the Gospel. I have the Solas (Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, Scripture Alone, Glory to God Alone) tattooed upon my skin. But at times I still doubt the truth they have echoed for centuries. And it is in those times of doubt that I have found I must strive towards Christ more so than when I easily know them to be true. It is in those times that I know that I do not have the strength to do this, but Scripture reminds me that I am promised a strength greater than any within myself (Ephesians 3:16, Colossians 1:11, 1 Peter 5:10). And it is in the moments when I am able to step over my pride and admit to being weak and broken that I begin to feel the strength of Christ closest to me and within me. Though I know that this is no excuse to wallow in my brokenness, for the call of Christ is to walk in fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). And in walking that way I start to become strong, for the joy of the Lord is our strength, it’s my strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
I know that as I write these things the truth of the gospel is close at hand. It feels branded onto my soul in such a way that it will never be forgotten. But I know that it will. I know that as a broken person it will be only hours until I once again find my mind drifting to things other than what I know to be true. I know that I will, within the week, feel broken again. But I have come to believe that is the life Christians are called to. We are called to be a people who continually become broken, for we are people who are called to continually love. And what else is love but the risk of being broken. And I have been known to wear my heart and my emotions on my sleeve, and though it has hurt me more than once. I plan on giving it opportunity to do so again.