If you live in Minnesota, you're probably getting ready to hibernate. You might be in your long johns, under a quilt, eating soup, drinking apple cider or whiskey, and preparing to get hunkered down indoors for the day. At least, that's what I'm planning on doing. I'm just kidding, I wish I had long johns. But the hibernating part will actually happen. I'm sitting on the couch in our living room, and I can hear ice chips hitting the window. The wind shakes things occasionally, and this old apartment building shudders in the gusts every now and then. We have leaky windows, and a draft of cold air floats in every so often. To watch movies, we usually sit with two or three blankets on top of us since the couch is right under the old window panes.
This year feels new, as it does, every year. White and cold, grey to some degree, and clung to by the oldness of 2013 in some respects. Leftover Christmas cookies and candies lay scattered around our kitchen, in decorative plastic bags and in the cupboard. I found a gift receipt I meant to include with someone's present yesterday. Everything is on sale at the stores.
I try to embrace the new year just as I do birthdays. I almost logically decide to feel one year older every March 22, and I try to imagine the new year wiped clean in the same way. It's nice to have subtle reminders and built-in analogies of what grace looks like in this way.
Over the past weeks, somewhat coincidentally, I've come across and read several stories set in the scene of a New Year's party. Sometimes, the protagonist is looking for love, but mostly he or she is feeling displaced, lonely, or hopeless among the throbbing of music and clinking cocktails. This seems to be a common thread woven throughout the holidays. If you're still finishing up that leftover champagne and thinking about how poorly your Christmas parties, family gatherings, and New Year's extravaganzas went, you're not alone.
One thing that's comforting to me in moments like these is to remember what I'm placing my identity in. If you measure your worth based off of how unique and interesting your Christmas gifts are, how many holiday parties you're invited to, if you have someone to kiss at midnight, or how socially adept you are at gatherings, then you're probably done for. It won't take long to dissolve into a lonely, muddied puddle of inadequacy if you're constantly comparing and critiquing yourself. Maybe it's not the above examples that cause you to strive, but think about if it all was stripped away--would anything be left? Or would you feel empty, black, and endless?
John 16:33 says, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
It's different, you see. This kind of peace and dependency isn't like anything else. It affects your heart in a completely different way than worldly peace ever could. I find the whole idea incredibly curious and simultaneously satisfying.
So wherever you are, sitting on your couch under cold windows like me, lying in your bed watching Netflix endlessly, scrolling through social media until your eyes burn, or sick and blowing your nose into a Kleenex (I know this is a good chunk of my friends right now), try and just let it all go. If you can, stop your whirring mind from trying to make it all work so perfectly. If you can't, that's okay. Pray about it a little and ask for help.
As I'm sitting here typing, I occasionally hear the gravelly sound of a car driving by outside or the quiet rumbling of a plane overhead. I just checked my phone to verify that yes, it is -27 degrees out, and yes, it does feel like -47. It's late. I'm yawning a lot now, and I think, as Frances Ha would say, "It's bedtime for all good children."
Stay warm, L
Photo by Bread & Olives