Usually at this time of year we are inundated with the traditional “New Year, New Me” resolution broadcasts in the form of newsletters, blogs, Facebook and Twitter posts but this year I don’t fancy finding a new me, I’m very happy as I am.
When you are younger, setting goals like exercise more, eat less, work harder and smarter, be kind and generous, often become an overwhelming discipline that in truth seldom gets achieved to our own high and at times unreasonable standards. As I am about to have my 60th birthday, I have come to realise that my life is already full of lists of things to do; however, these lists don’t exist because I want to be a productive and better version of myself. They exist because if they did not I may not remember my own name let alone what I want to accomplish this month or this year.
If I were to make changes going into 2020, simplifying my life may be in my top 10, let me explain. Having just returned from a very pleasant few days away with family for Christmas, two things shocked me. Firstly, I took with me a shoulder bag just for cables and chargers, all of which I deemed necessary so as to run my life in a more efficient way. Once upon a time that shoulder bag would have been full of books to read, but sadly there is no longer room for books due to my insistence that an automated life is a good life.
Secondly, on my return I wanted a nice cup of coffee. Now I boast a very smart “bean to cup” coffee machine which enables me to enjoy my coffee in a variety of differing ways, and having just driven for nearly three hours, a readily-available libation is just what the doctor ordered. Oh that life was that simple. Having turned on my machine, anticipating a speedy and satisfying cup of coffee, I am immediately faced with the instruction “Fill the water tank”. I remove the tank from the machine and fill it as instructed and replaced it. I am then instructed to empty the grounds container. Frustrated, I follow the instructions and prepare to make my coffee. I am then instructed “Fill the coffee beans”. A moment of irritation followed as I thought to myself, “Why don’t you just boil a kettle?” However, undeterred I pressed on only to be greeted with another instruction: “Descale the coffee machine”. Past experience has taught me that I would need to find the manual for the coffee machine to achieve this task. And if past experience is to go by, the manual will not be in the drawer where I thought I put it. I think I’ll have a cup of tea.
Life seems to go so much faster the older you become, so maybe along with simplifying my life I need to resolve to always remember to live in the moment, not think too far ahead, appreciate what I have, spend time with the people that matter, and try to be myself at all times. No matter how determined you are to set goals to achieve in this coming year, it is very difficult to plan for the unexpected like illness, the loss of a loved one or simply, “I never saw that coming”.
King George VI gave his Christmas speech in 1939 completely unaware of the catastrophic events that would sweep across Europe in the following year. However, his speech seemed to be tailor-made for the year that was to follow. It wasn’t full of hope-filled declarations and aspirations, but was wisely laced with complete confidence in God’s unfailing faithfulness in spite of stepping into another year unsure as to what that year will hold. Here is an extract of that speech. Perhaps it might form your prayer for the coming year:
I feel that we may all find a message of encouragement in the lines which, in my closing words, I would like to say to you: I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
May God’s Almighty Hand guide and uphold us all as we venture together into another year and a new decade.