The Ugly From Last Year

imageBy JMathis

Ugly. Over the years, that word has been attached to a whole host of images. When I was three, ugly referred to the monster lurking within my closet. When I was thirteen, ugly was the name I gave to every single pimple on my face that dared to defy acne medication (oh wait, was that yesterday?). When I was twenty-one, ugly was the “troll” on the dance floor who just couldn’t take the hint that I wasn’t interested in grinding the night away.

Unfortunately, as I have gotten older, I tend to pull out the word ugly a lot more, to refer to a whole range of irritating nuisances in my life. For the past few years, I have found myself using the word ugly as a commentary on the year that I am experiencing. More often than not, I catch myself saying, “This year can’t get any uglier; I can’t wait for it to be over!! Next year has got to be better than this.”

In fact, as I look back on every year of my adulthood, I don’t recall ever saying, “Wow! This past year was just SO incredible, there’s no way that next year can top it!” More often than not, I am just itching to put a close on yet another ugly year. I know that many of you feel the same way, since I read a multitude of Facebook status updates that said: “Good Riddance, 2010!”

Sadly, even when remarkable milestones are achieved in a single year, such events continue to be shrouded in anxieties over what the future will bring. These anxieties quickly cloud and shape one’s resolutions for the upcoming year. While I was over the moon about launching my own business, worries about finances made me resolve that I needed to horde every penny that was earned, without giving purposeful prayer and thought as to how to build my company’s future. When I experienced the gift of childbirth, I didn’t allow myself to enjoy being a new mom as I was too busy juggling work pressures, post-partum depression and feeling sorry for myself that my former, carefree life had vanished. Instead of confiding in God, my family or friends that my life was really out of whack, I just convinced myself that I needed to make a new year’s resolution to engage in more “work-life balance”. What does that mean anyway??

Not always, but perhaps we make these resolutions because we are not content and at peace with the already complete life God has given to each of us. Why is it that we are unable to hold onto a spirit of thankfulness throughout the year? Why can’t we remain full of faith that God will continue to supply all of our needs year after year? Why is it so difficult to recognize that life is already full of God’s blessings and evidence of His continued faithfulness? Why are we always so quick to flush last year down the toilet?

Are resolutions our way of taking matters into our own hands, since we just don’t trust God to provide a solution in time?

Perhaps the concept of crafting a new year’s resolution is faulty to begin with, as it is almost always a man-made aspiration, rather than a God-inspired desire. Maybe we have it all backwards when it comes to new years’ resolutions.

Now, I am not saying that it is incorrect or fruitless to aspire for bigger and greater, and to believe for a better year than the last. I’m not even saying that you should kiss new years’ resolutions goodbye. However, when your new years’ resolutions are in fact the SAME resolutions every year, and you find that your new year is turning out to have the SAME exact problems as the year before, then there’s something wrong.

Have you ever considered asking God what your resolutions should be this year? How about asking Him what ugliness you need to change about yourself in 2011?

Do we avoid doing that, because we’re just too afraid of hearing God’s answer?

What if your resolution is to expand your lucrative medical practice, while God’s resolution is for you to work for a free clinic in the inner city? What if your resolution is to spend more time in the gym, while God’s resolution is for you to spend more time mentoring homeless kids? What if your resolution is to move the heck out of your parents’ house, while God’s resolution is for you to let go of past grudges and make proper amends with your family members? What if your resolution is to fix everything that’s wrong in the church, while God’s resolution is for you to just sit down, shut up and have a heart of thanksgiving? Thanksgiving for the roof over your head, thanksgiving for the clean water you drink, and thanksgiving that God has already provided you with everything you could possibly need to positively impact another life on this earth?

Maybe the ugly from last year is just the ugly truth that we don’t really care what God wants for our future.

Maybe the ugly from last year is that we don’t want to hear what God’s still, small voice has to say about the upcoming year.

Maybe the ugly from last year is that we complain about everything and are grateful to God for nothing.

Maybe the ugly from last year is YOU.

Psalms 51:12: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

One thought on “The Ugly From Last Year

  1. sablek

    It is just human nature that we remember the UGLY from last year! A few years ago, I started leaving a “note to self” in one of my Christmas/Hanukkah storage boxes. I write down four or five prayer requests and letter to the Lord. The following year, I take a look to see what God has done, write a few more prayer requests and another letter to the Lord. The first year, I felt beat up and overworked with the sense that not too much had changed from last year. I read my prayer requests to see that God answered EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM. BUT, He didn’t answer them in the way that I expected. I asked for health for my dad in 2008 and my dad lived one more year. I asked for generous and continuous income and God gave me a business. I asked for money reserves for my mom and he gave her a husband. I asked for peace with my inlaws and I got it. So, if it was my way, my dad would have been healed, I would still be a stay at home mom, my mom’s business would be booming and well (we’ll skip the in law part). God’s ways are higher and better than our ways. He has so much more in store that we could ever hope or imagine.


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