Beginnings are hard. Whether it’s trying to figure out how to open a blog post or looking forward to the coming twelve months at the beginning of a year. Beginnings are also exciting. They hold promise and herald the starting of new things. Beginnings are scary. They imply times of transition, of moving from one thing into another and change is hard. I think I like beginnings. I’ve faced a lot of them in the past year. I began my life as an engaged person last April. That is a big transition as I move from a solo life where my thoughts are often concerned with what I am doing and how it will affect me to including another person in those plans. I graduated from college last May. I began the transition from my life as a student (formally speaking) to my life in the real world, my life as an adult. I left home, for probably the last time as a permanent resident there, to begin my life as a YAV in Tucson.
And now I sit here, seven days into this new year, a year in which my time as a YAV will come to an end, in which I will marry the love of my life, in which I will begin to seriously and in a very real way confront life in the “real” world. That’s scary. The YAV program has helped me to develop and discover things that I didn’t know about myself, like how I like my living space to be, things that are important to me when it comes to work, and the fact that children still do scare me and with good reason (child care is not in my future…at least caring for other’s people’s kids). This season has provided a safety net while at the same time throwing me to the wolves (or coyotes). What will happen when even that is gone and I have to “fend for myself”? I’m getting married this year. Inside of nine months now…what? A short month after I get back from this experience here I will have another person in my life full time…like a live-in best friend. How will I handle that transition? Will I be okay? Will she be okay? Will we be okay? And, a corollary to that, I will have to find employment. That is a seriously scary proposition for me. I don’t have the next step figured out yet and this might be the first time in my life that that has been the case. I don’t know how to approach it except to continue knocking on the doors that are in my path and trusting God to open the ones that will be fulfilling, or maybe just the ones that are supposed to open in that season. It’s an exercise in faith that is rarely comfortable for me.
Those are kind of the macro beginnings for this new year. There are micro ones as well. Most people use this time of year to make resolutions, things they resolve to do in the coming year. There’s a statistic out there that says only about 8% of those resolutions will be kept throughout the entire year. Which is kind of sad to me. I’ve never really been one to make resolutions but this year felt different and I felt there were things that I should change or add to my life in 2017 as preparation for what is to come. I call them my commitments. Instead of resolving to do these things (which is weak language in my opinion, especially when it comes to keeping them long term), I am committing to doing these things throughout all the months of 2017. And, in so doing, I hope to form habits that will last the rest of my life.
The first is committing to being more open, especially with problems that confront me in my life. This, at least at first, consists of sharing more with my fiancée as a practice for our marriage. But I hope in sharing more and being more open with her that I can also be more open with other people in my life and invite them into my struggles. And I pray for reciprocation in that. Communal life is instrumental in providing support in hard times and in good times. I hope to foster in my life space where people can feel open about what is troubling them, what is giving them joy, and, in so doing, we can mutually support each other through whatever is going on.
The second commitment involves incorporating more spiritual disciplines into my daily life. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do but have never had the willingness to actually follow through with. I am working my way through the devotional My Utmost for His Highest. I’m really excited because there is a new devotion every day and a new passage in the bible to read every day. In addition to the devotional, I’m hoping to work through different spiritual formation books. I want to broaden and deepen my faith, especially as I face the unknown and potentially scary future.
My third commitment is in relation to my physical health. I’ve been trying to swim as much as I can and obviously I bike every day, but I’ve wanted to diversify my physical activities a little. So, even though I hate running, I’ve committed to running three days a week, in addition to my three days a week of swimming and my daily biking. I want to build healthy workout habits as I leave my days of competitive swimming behind and hopefully keep these habits into married life and beyond.
Beginnings are hard. Beginnings are exciting. Beginnings are scary. I embrace the difficulty, the excitement, and the fear that comes with starting this new year. I hope 2017 is a good one.
Thank you, Gracious God for new beginnings, for a new year, and another new day. And thank you for new commitments.
And so we go.