In this season of New Year’s resolutions, we set out to grow by lunging towards a goal. Forward progress or drying out bad habits is the focal point. We bury the past, stay mindful enough of the present but soldier on towards a new and improved future. It’s a well worn path navigated best by the self disciplined. At 30 days in, with energy waning, a few can double down but most of us redraw goal lines or give up.
We are primed to live with expectation but we also need a rich remembrance of our history. While it’s not healthy to dwell on the past, most of us don’t spend enough quality time excavating it for treasure. All of our histories are dotted with a mixture of the mundane, milestone events, and meteors of various sizes. Your pile of rubble may be bigger than my pile of rubble but I suspect neither of us has fully mined it for what else was left there to teach us.
We have experience with that good thing that welled up unexpectedly in a place of pain or mess or disappointment - that mysterious sense of peace or joy - that strengthened us for the road ahead. But what about the good thing forgotten? The good thing never identified? I wonder when we run dry after 30 days if we looked into the well of our own life experience, we would find hidden pockets of grace - rich with fuel - to keep us living into the future with sustained energy.
It’s a small example but someone asked me recently what ever happened to that screenplay I wrote 7 years ago. “Nothing” was the answer. While over the years of reflection I’ve collected some good things that came out of that investment of time and energy, it still largely looms as a failure. This time however I heard it as a nudge - not to try to resurrect the project - but to revisit that season of my life and ask what gifts did I miss that would be of valuable service towards my purpose today - here in 2019.
I’m certain there are more jewels to dig up from all my years but especially 1984 (the year my parents moved me across the country at the start of 9th grade as a late bloomer with braces), 1997 (the year I got pregnant when I didn’t want to get pregnant,) 2010 (my worst year of parenting) or 2013 (my first year in the idyllic but not always easy country of Luxembourg.) Perhaps there is something my 2019 self would be empowered by in the remembering.
I don’t buy the idea that “everything we need is already there” because I think we need plans and to do lists and people to help us and keep us accountable. But I also think we try to muscle through on our latest gas up without remembering all the reserves we haven’t fully tapped into yet. Connecting the dots of your own life reveals all sorts of patterns you couldn’t have seen otherwise.
The dots aren’t going to map it all out. And there will still be loads of crazy outliers because we all roll with some non sequiturs. But also don’t be surprised if you make out the faint outline of a crown amidst the pattern. The Psalmist boldly says: “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.” That’s one of those promises if you are willing to believe that’s bigger and better than our best and boldest New Year’s resolution.
So breathe deep and know that if 2019 turns out to be your best year or a bust, you can count on there being lots of dots to connect down the road. And psst, remember your crown.