I’m a little skeptical when it comes to the New Year. As January 1 approached this year I was asked about my new year’s resolutions and my answer was always: I don’t do that. Now, I don’t begrudge anyone partaking in a resolution, but for me they often end up being a set-up for my eventual guilt. I practice my resolution with vigor for a week, maybe two, before dropping out and sinking into murky feelings of me being the absolute worst. There’s so much expectation in the New Year’s resolution, but we often set goals that are unrealistic.
I’m going to have a boyfriend this time next Christmas
I’ll lose __ pounds and keep it off
I’m going to bring the Syrian nation to a place of peace
When it comes down to it, I often wonder: how much difference can a day really make? Is December 31 really that different from January 1? I mean, aren’t they both just days? I think to how I was yesterday and as I examine myself today, I’m pretty much the same. Somehow, the New Year hold’s such power and meaning in our minds. It symbolizes a closing and an opening. Old vs. new. Winter leading into spring. I think we put our hope in the idea of change, but pretty quickly find ourselves in the same place we were the month before. The hope seems misplaced or at the very least, unrealistic.
However, I’m also struck by the reality that change is possible. And while it tends to be slow and laborious, there can be those times when great growth emerges in a seeming moment’s notice. Malcolm Gladwell would call these moments “tipping points”. He uses the term to talk about how trends happen, but I think the principle can translate into our daily lives. There are moments when the tiniest, most insignificant action results in great movement.
I’ve been watching the show “Breaking Bad” over the Christmas break and one of the more telling lines comes from the show’s main character, Walter White.
Chemistry is, well technically, chemistry is the study of matter. But I prefer to see it as the study of change.
He is a mild-mannered chemistry teacher, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. At the same time, he sees a former student making crystal meth and decides that he can provide for his family (for after his death) by using his chemistry skills to make drugs. His circumstances create a sort of chemical reaction within Walter. The reaction does not create this meth producer, but rather allows for a release from what is hidden inside White.
While this is a negative example, it does show how much can shift for a person in a day’s notice. I was reflecting similarly as I examined my experience of 2013. One of the things that has emerged for me is my writing. For years I wanted to write. I would start story after story, blog after blog, but never continued writing consistently for more than a month. What was my tipping point? What was my chemical reaction? There is no one thing that brought me into this season of writing, but I have noticed a few contributing factors. First, it’s been a hard season of life for me. I’ve never experienced such prolonged loneliness and the experience brought up so much pain and disappointment in me. Yet, as I leaned into this experience, there was a new level of vulnerability that emerged in me and my writing. Second, I attended the Q conference in April. It was an invigorating experience for me and I was reminded of the good that God has created in me. Between these two factors, and many other experiences, I wrote a piece called “Sheltered.” I call that piece the one where I found my words. It was that article that started me writing consistently. Now, about nine months later, I am still writing. I have hated what I wrote some days, feared what others would think, and wanted to quit about a million times. Yet, I am still writing.
Change is a slow beast of a process, yet there are moments when growth flourishes and solidifies. Sometimes within a single day.