It is January 10th, and I just got the calendar switched over. More on that in a moment.
First, I want to gush for a little bit and tell you that I see the Lang Folk Art calendar as the equivalent of comfort food hanging on the wall. My mother always kept one around when I was growing up. She didn’t use it to keep the family organized with important dates and appointments, though. My mother used these calendars as something like a prehistoric Facebook feed, complete with hand-drawn emojis, because she was ahead of her time. Twenty-five years ago, my mother’s January calendar would’ve been peppered with entries like this:
Courtney built a snowman (hand-drawn smiley face)
Or, Christmas break is already over (hand-drawn crying face)
One day a couple years back I was sitting in a girlfriend’s kitchen and I caught a glimpse of her Lang calendar hanging in a frame. All the memories of my mother’s calendars came flooding back – like I said, comfort food on the wall. Ever since then I’ve had one on my wall, too.
Our calendar is kept in a place where we can see it as we come and go. I took down the 2017 calendar today and flipped through it. A quick glance told me that we use our calendar to manage relationships and to plan the sharing of our lives with others. Our 2017 calendar is crammed with names of the people we were blessed to do life with over the past year. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Of course, this new calendar is empty right now. That’s because I’m a little late to 2018. Ten days late, if we’re counting.
I didn’t burst into 2018 when the ball dropped. There were quite a few reasons for this, but perhaps the biggest was the fact that the stomach flu came roaring through the house. So I missed the time when people everywhere were making fresh starts and feeling more motivated than ever to tackle new challenges, finally get organized, and be healthier. While all this was transpiring, I was setting my sights on getting up off the bathroom floor and out of the pajamas I’d been wearing for three days straight. And quite frankly, the goal seemed far too lofty.
So yeah, I didn’t propel into 2018 with enthusiasm and zeal. I crawled into 2018 like a swamp monster; not even the cool and scary kind of swamp monster, but the pathetic kind from the old movies, back before special effects could make them seem truly scary, so they just looked kind of sad. I crawled into 2018 like that, only to be met with the numerous unintended consequences of being a sick mom. You know, mounds of laundry and empty refrigerators, those sorts of things.
I’ve been climbing out of the pit. I have a little way to go, I suppose.
This isn’t meant to be a depressing post, however. So let’s shift tones a bit.
Here’s the important thing I want to share with you today. This is what I’m hanging my soggy-swamp-monster-hat on as I (finally) enter this year:
“New” isn’t something to be grasped on January 1st. New is something to be grasped each morning.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)
Sure, I missed the chance at the iconic “fresh start” of the New Year. But in thinking it over, I’ve realized something much bigger: All too often, I miss the daily fresh start that’s mine to take hold of every morning, simply because of who Jesus is and who He calls me to be.
In a weird sort of way, I’m grateful for how this year started, because it helped me to realize how important it is to welcome each day with the new mercies and renewal that only Jesus can offer. To let go of any burdens or negative attitudes from yesterday instead of carrying these things around for days and weeks at a time.
I can testify, now that I’ve officially missed the start of a New Year, that missing your chance at a fresh start leaves you feeling a little behind, a little sluggish, a little grumpy. A little swamp-monsterish, if you will. That’s no way to wake up each morning.
Look out, 2018, I have officially arrived! I don’t come resolving to get healthy or get organized. I simply come ready to wake up to the new mercies I so desperately need each morning; ready to put on my new self; ready to be transformed. Ready to let others do the same.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a pit to dig out of—and a calendar to fill.
And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. (Ephesians 4:23-24 MSG)