Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hope and Another Year

Photo by Henry Mühlpfordt

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
—Isaiah 43:19

Behold, I make all things new.
—Revelation 21:5

I love new beginnings. Fresh starts, fresh hopes. Where would we be without the hope that things can be made new?

"By this time next year . . ."
"Starting today, I’m going to . . ."
"In two months I’ll be . . ."

Still, sometimes I shake my head when I hear words like these coming out of my mouth. If I’m in a bad mood, they seem like evidence that I’ve been duped yet again by that old hope thing. Shame on you, I tell myself. You’re old enough to know better. How many more years are you going to believe "X" can change?

It’s hard to start another new year realizing that many of the hopes you had for the old one weren’t fulfilled, and it’s tempting to shield yourself from disappointment by deliberating hardening yourself into a state of indifference.

When our wished-for new beginnings fail—or we fail them—most of us pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off (for a day or a month, maybe while vowing not to be fooled by hope again), then hope once more for something to be made new. And so on, and so on. After a few decades of this I-will-hope/I-won’t-hope cycle, you begin to understand why hope is a virtue. Because hope takes an act of will. And you can kill it if you wish. Killing it is easy compared to keeping it alive.

All this is not to say that hopes are never fulfilled or that new beginnings never come. They do. They just don’t come as often as we’d like or in the ways we’d like. Sometimes it seems like God is more than just a little late with doing a new thing.

Most of the time, it’s only by looking back over many years that we can see the new things that entered our lives. Like stepping stones in a river, leading us from one side to the other, these things were unremarkable as we set foot on them—just part of the scenery of life. But they led us from one bank of the river to the other, and crossing the Jordan in baby steps is no less of a miracle than running across the dry floor of the suddenly parted Red Sea.

To those of you who made new year’s resolutions and those of you who didn’t, to those of you who think it might be time to grow a callous on your heart and those of you who have decided to give hope another year, I wish you the best in 2012.



Cynthia Bruner said...

Ah, just what I needed to read. Thanks. :-)

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Great thoughts, Karin. I rarely make a list of new year's resolutions, because I know that it takes more than a new year to inspire the pick-yourself-up-and-try-again discipline that will make change successful. :-) It requires help from God, and passion for the goal. And you're right, the catalyst for change is often time, and both the remarkable and unremarkable situations and events life brings along. Happy New Year, my friend!

M.H. Gerber said...

I enjoyed your post. Have a very happy New Year, Karin!

Karin Kaufman said...

@Cynthia: Thanks, I'm glad it fit the bill. I needed to *write* it too. :)

@Gwen I no longer make the sort of new year's resolutions that require me to begin something Jan. 1 and continue it without fail. For me, that's a recipe for disaster! I need more of the "where I'd like to be in a year" type of goal. And you're right, any goal requires help from God. Happy new year to you, too, my friend!

@Maureen I'm so glad you liked my post. A very happy new year to you too!

Gail M Baugniet said...

Karin, I am one of those "glass half full" people. I would rather smile because it makes me feel good. Resolutions are a way of life for me. I list them with step-by-step ideas but I don't always accomplish everything I set out to do. It is so much fun aiming toward something constructive though and I always hit a higher target when I set a goal!
Best wishes to you for a happy and successful 2012.

Karin Kaufman said...

Gail, I aim at the "glass half full" attitude, but I don't always achieve it. (I take detours into cynicism.) Still, I keep aiming for it. I know it's right and best. I like your idea of listing steps for reaching your resolution goals. Maybe that's what's been missing in my past resolutions. Best wishes to you in 2012, too!

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