New Year’s Eve always involves a little self-talk. This is me talking to me and maybe to you too.
At 42, I’ve had enough life experience to tell me that it’s not worth chasing the high you’re deciding on tonight, which is intended to last throughout 2016. Here’s the sober truth: fat can’t be flushed, regrets won’t disappear, the lottery won’t make you rich, s/he is not the answer to your problems. Even as I speak it, I know there’s a “but” in there… This year I’m getting rid of the “but.” (By all means, enjoy that play on words!)
The quick fix has NEVER WORKED, so maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board and see what got us here hanging out with Regret, Disappointment, and Overweight anyway (an attractive lot!).
What actually does work isn’t as sexy as the quick fix. It has a harder time marketing itself. Take an honest look and you’ll see that the quick fix is someone else gaining from your neediness. There are those who would highlight your problems so they can sell you the fix, so that you can become dependent on them and they can profit.
Walk away from that nonsense. Walk away, I say! (Hint: if you have to pay money for it, be very skeptical of it.)
Maybe this time we could go for the long fix. Let’s not even call it a fix, let’s call it healing.
If we have had victory or success in our life – and there has been that, so let’s not ignore this good reflection! – it’s because of a continual moving ahead in one direction. I’ll even use the word PLODDING. That’s how unsexy this is. It’s the good goal of waking up with the alarm clock every day. It’s the daily lacing up of running shoes, doing that errand now instead of later, making that phone call, doing the dishes right after supper, budgeting, showing up every Sunday… It’s committing to the things that never feel great till you’ve finished them. These can actually be the healing activities.
No doubt, there is a war raging against us. There are areas that we’ve let go, we’ve not attended to (we’ve even sabotaged) and the results have been disastrous at their worst, disheartening at best. Sometimes this battle within ourselves threatens to consume us unless we TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY. This is how it feels, right? I’m telling you, when I tried to do up my jeans after an extended season of feasting, the URGENCY I felt about it had me fantasizing about slicing off body parts. What a brutal thought.
There’s no emergency here. Your first priority is simply to STOP. There are no dogs barking at your heels. You have more than four minutes to save the world.
Once you stop, ahhh… even that is a relief. This is the time for confession and reflection. Sure, things may have gotten out of control, but take the road outta here the same way you got here, step by step, moment by moment, decision by decision… but in the right direction.
Here I must pause and recognize the goodness and grace of God. We are not alone in this odyssey, we’re not left to our own devices, hacking our way through the overgrowth. These efforts are not to find the light, but to work from the light we’ve been given. We are pilgrims on a journey that God has prescribed for us. And let’s not forget we have an enemy that desires to take us off course, down treacherous pathways (his ammo is “the high,” by the way).
This is the context of our efforts.
Pilgrimage is all about the plodding. What a privilege to consider God’s gift of kindness that leads us to repentance. The plodding is the “Go and sin no more” after Jesus says “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11). When we have gone in the wrong direction for too long, God does not hold this against us. The Lord shows us how we can even make stepping stones out of our failures.
The plodding is born out of grace and motivated by the hope and joy we have in Christ.
The cleanse, the lottery, the whirlwind romance will not win your war. It’s the day after day discipline of moving towards the light that God has shown you that is your victory.
Where are you headed? In which direction will you put one foot in front of the other? Plod forth to your healing, Pilgrim. Let the Lord lead!