You get to choose a better New Year!

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black background

When Dickens began his classic novel with the words “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, he unwittingly captured the tentative and precarious mood of generations of people facing the commencement of each new year. On the dawn of yet another year we all find ourselves standing on the precipice like an intrepid explorer, surveying the unchartered land before us wondering whether it will hold delights, thrills and discoveries or dangers, sadness and ruin. There is something about the unpredictability of life that makes it the adventure it is. Something about its day-to-day uncertainty that necessitates us all living with a healthy quota of risk and faith. New Year, new…? For some the coming year burst with expectation and joy.

erAHfjM6zbDcwMeHBuN2rpzasjhlL2iCMsiMid90ffc,l2sxwO5ZcD6XbIUtRepxTq2MiaSnUJkHR7P2NIQr_U8Two good friends of my wife and I got married this week, on the 30th. For them, the New Year will be a year of new experiences, new adventures, new love. They face it with clear-eyed, childlike anticipation. But for others the New Year does not hold the same thrill. For some it looms large, dark and odious, as they await that foreboding diagnosis. Or battle anxiety over the revelation of their spouse’s unfaithfulness, or fear that unexpected oversized tax bill! As romantic as it sounds, New Year is not always synonymous with new hope, new love, new joy, new adventures. For some there remains the wish that New Year could be postponed or indefinitely cancelled. The good and the bad of life is not a conspiracy The truth is we will all experience a little or a lot of both camps. We will all embrace new experiences, new relationships, new joys, new highs, unexpected surprises, unforeseen friendships, unanticipated discoveries… much as we are destined for heartache, trouble, pressure, disappointment and upset.

The good and the bad of life is not a conspiracy aimed at dismantling your personal happiness, it’s just life! That’s how it rolls! And the traffic is seldom one way, nothing we have or are guarantees a different outcome. You do not get to avoid trouble for example, if you’re beautiful. The super intelligent don’t get to evade hassle and tough times. The ludicrously wealthy cannot buy a tragedy-free twelve months, any more than the obscenely famous can guarantee a pain-free, trouble-free year. Life is no respecter of wealth, position, looks or intelligence. It is what it is and it does what it does whether you own corporations or stack shelves, whether your face is on the cover of the most prestigious magazines and is the envy of all, or whether you’re unknown and unremarkable. All of which implies that New Year cannot and must not be left to its own devices. We cannot allow our year to be determined by life’s arbitrary experiences. One thing is guaranteed, good things will happen to you this year as sure as bad things. High’s and low’s, sadness’s and joy’s, deep disappointment as well as breath-taking surprises, forsaken friendships and enriching new ones. It will all happen to you in the next 365 days. Response—ability The question becomes; how will they determine your year? To which the answer may be to take some honest response-ability. To use our ability to respond freely and contrary, if need be, to what the experience might dictate. We are not bound to respond badly to bad situations anymore than we are conditioned to respond positively to promising opportunities. Each time, with every experience, a choice must be made, a decision arrived at. That decision is always influenced by our circumstances but never controlled by them. We hold the response-ability to react well to a bad situation and to fully embrace a good experience.

Whatever 2015 throws at us our choice of what we do with it, will determine its impact as much as our health, growth and happiness through the coming year. Paul reminds us that “all things” work for our good. That the universe is tilted in our favour… the deck of life is stacked intriguingly to our advantage. “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the day’s of my life”, declared David in his classic Psalm 23. You’ll notice he didn’t say “surely ease and comfort will follow me”, or “trouble and pain will never find me”… That isn’t the life of a child; a son, a daughter. It’s the life of a spoilt brat, of a privileged silver spoon! Real life is messy and dark; it is contradictory, awkward and painful. But it is also wonderful, exciting, joyful and comforting. And whether it is the former or the latter to us, at whatever time of the year, the assurance is that “goodness and mercy” will be hard on our heels whether we recognise it or not.


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