I like things that are old. I like old houses, old books, old clothes, old movies, old friends. I'm not crazy about new situations or meeting new people or trying new things. I'm not into spontaneity or stretching myself.
The new year is something I don't have much of a choice about though. Time is moving on, and I'm required to move with it. Most blogs are talking about new year's resolutions or goals for the new year. I'm tempted to find some really attainable goal for myself, something like, "I will not let it bother me when I don't tear off a big enough piece of dental floss and have to start over again."
I got my new calendar/planner the other day, and I sat down with my old calendar and the new one, side by side, to flip back through what had happened in 2010 and write down things for 2011. I wanted to see what date the girls had their pediatrician check-up so I would schedule it for the right time according to our insurance, and I saw that they had gone the morning of June 16, the day my mom died. I had written "Mom" on that date, and "Mom" on the date we buried her, and "Mom" on the date we had her memorial service, and as I read the dates I felt as I have felt so much of 2010--paralyzed.
Here's the thing--I know that losing your parents is the natural order of things. My mom lived a wonderful, beautiful long life, and I will always miss her--she's my mom. But she was so much more than a mom to me--she was my mentor, my spiritual director. When I needed help, when I needed clarity, when I needed direction, I could ask my mom. And now that she's gone, I feel unsure a lot of times; I try this tactic and that tactic, then, when clearly none of the tactics are working, I think, "How can I go on without her? What am I going to do? Help me, Jesus!"
Before Christmas I decided to bake, for the first time, my mom's secret recipe Christmas cookies. She had written out the recipe for me, and I followed it to the letter (I'm not very good at following directions to the letter, but I wanted these to be perfect--exactly like she would make them). Then next thing I knew, I had a lump of something that was harder and stronger than cement. I have no idea what went wrong, but it was awful and became a concrete-like metaphor for the missing ingredient in my life--Mom. I went down to the laundry room (because no one in our family goes to the laundry room--trust me on that), fell to my knees in the middle of the unfolded laundry, and cried and cried.
There's this poem that I memorized years ago that has somehow stayed etched in my memory--"Funeral Blues" by W H Auden--and the last stanza says:
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
That pretty much says it for me. I used the word "paralyzed" above, and that's how I have felt inside--while all of life has moved on, I'm still kneeling beside her grave, thinking, "How can I go on? What is there for me? I could have half my left life still, and what is the point of it all? Who will tell me where I belong and what I should be doing?"
But as I knelt down in the laundry and as I filled out this new year's calendar, I have heard His still, small voice saying, "It's time to get up now. I've got plans for a future and hope for you. I'm still here. I'm not leaving. The 'help me, Jesus' tactic is the best one, anyway."
Some people, instead of choosing resolutions or goals for the new year, choose a word. One word, something they focus on for the whole year in a variety of ways--once they choose the word it seems to permeate whatever they do. I didn't choose a word for myself this year, but it seems as though God has chosen one for me.
It's going to be a year of new experiences, new people, new things--that stretch me and challenge me and pull me up and cause me to call out, "Help me, Jesus!" I can dread them and I can fight them, I can stay curled up in the laundry room where no one wants to be, or I can consider Abraham, who didn't know the next direction his feet were supposed to step, but he kept stepping and believed the Lord so it was counted to him as righteousness.
My first new thing for the new year is to join the LPM blog's Scripture memory team. We learn two verses a month, of our choosing. We check in on the 1st and 15th with our name, city, and verse--and it is so phenomenal to see over 6,000 verses come streaming down through the comments. Beth's instructions are to keep it simple and keep it personal, or as she says, "try to refrain from memorizing Scriptures that you think your spouse or your children need to learn. Memorize what you need to learn. That means do your best to avoid jotting your verse on a stick note and planting it on your bathroom mirror where your man can see it and repent of his sins. He probably won’t because he’s got your game. I bet you can guess how I know that."
I know I'll have other new things this year to share with you--I've got some I already know about, but I know some will be complete surprises to me. Feel free to hold me accountable as to whether I'm dragging my feet on them or stepping like Abraham. I'll share my verses every two weeks here, too.
Here is mine for January 1, 2011:
Jeremiah 31:22b "God will create a new thing in this land: A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!"