The mood in general was tense and apocalyptic. I was an inexperienced mother grappling with possibilities more sobering, outlandish, open-ended than I had ever before had to contemplate throughout my relatively brief quarter of a century on this earth. There were warnings, theories, haunting instructions: “Duck and cover!” “Stockpile your cellars!” “Get plenty of extra batteries for your flashlights!” The countdown began, we collectively winced - the whole wide world on the brink of a brand new millennium.
10 (lock the door in case there's looters), 9 (step away from the computer, it may explode), 8 (pass out those bottles of water), 7 (light your candles, here comes the blackout), 6 (kiss your loved ones, forgive your enemies), 5 (snuggle close, we’ll generate body heat), 4 (stuff the cash under your mattress), 3 (grab your prayer rope), 2 (hold your breath), 1 (laugh nervously; we were all mistaken. Break out the champagne! Happy New Year!)
How silly we must have looked to those who knew better. A Tower of Babel type of foolishness involving miniscule ideas that seemed giant to the men and women who meticulously built them from out of intellect, research, and self-confidence. “The Sky is Falling!” said someone, and we panicked, while time marched on oblivious to all the commotion, while God remained uninfluenced by the uninspired prophecies of His children. Eight years later and another midnight passes, devoid of total annihilation on a global scale. I’m still here, still standing, still clueless about the future, still waffling between faith and apprehension. And the Midwestern snow cascades generously down from the Heavens, landing peacefully, indiscriminately, on both the beautiful and the ugly, on the living and the dying, on those who think it miraculous and on those who find it commonplace, totally explainable, and irrelevant. We are busy, busy, busy understanding everything.
A friend shared with me her struggles – devastatingly heavy unknowns. “Please pray,” she requested, and I felt her sorrow drip into my heart. This New Year will unfold for many like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book (“I’ll do this, than that, than the other. Here’s my timeline set in stone.”), but for just as many more it will pry open doors they had mentally, emotionally, spiritually bolted shut to no avail. There will be joy where we least expect it and unforeseen discontentment in the surefire plans to make us better, happier, more likeable than before. Of course I want to change a few things about myself; I’m sure my husband and children would be only too pleased to compile an alphabetical list for me. Let’s see…there’s patience, organization, self-control, blah, blah, blah, all the regulars - nothing’s new under the sun of my domesticity. But with an official, January 1st, starting point upon me, the temptation to go ahead and once more resolve something significant, stretching, potentially life changing is irresistible.
So here it goes (drum roll, please) …this year, I, Molly Ann Sabourin, am determined to make fewer resolutions, to plan less and trust more in the omnipotence of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I wish to quiet my longings by way of prayer, to stay focused on salvation through consistent participation in the Divine Services, to confess my way back to the narrow path after inevitably veering too far right, too far left. I want to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” like it’s a career, a bona fide calling worth the bulk of my time, energy, and resources. When it seems absolutely insane to move forward in the direction of Christ’s leading, when I’m handed a trumpet to knock down insurmountable walls, a staff to part the waters, may I, may we have the confidence to silence the naysayers, ignore the odds against us, and let God work a miracle in the midst of loss, trepidation, and distress. This year I want to decrease my amount of goals and increase my intercessions for others. “Thy will be done,” I mean that (please overlook the trembling), I really do.
It took me a full two hours to scrub the eighteen months worth of maple syrup, dried jam, and unknown sticky pools of brownish gunk from out the drawers and crevices of my refrigerator, but now it gleams and I find myself opening the door to peer inside of it as often as possible. It feels good, really good, to bask in the fruits of my labor. Sure, it would be great to also have a basement I could walk through without cringing, a couple of shirts ironed, a pantry with spices stacked neatly side by side instead of piled haphazardly like the clothes still shoved in our suitcases, but today I will delight in the small accomplishment at hand – a refrigerator that yesterday was dirty but now is clean. It’s all a matter of perspective, really, either “Poor me, look at this mess I’m surrounded by!” or “My, what a lot of opportunities I have to make a difference.” New Year, new chances, new beginnings – choose wisely.