The Man in the Mirror
As never before, we are all praying that the New Year will, indeed, be New. Even as we will see more death and suffering before we get there, the end of the pandemic is in sight. But other problems that beset us will not be so definitively addressed and ended. Even as I type this, we have another impasse in Washington threatening to end much pandemic relief and even to shut down the government.
I don’t expect congress to suddenly get its collective act together. I don’t expect race relations to suddenly be just and believed to be so. I don’t expect world powers to suddenly lay down arms and agree to live in humility and peace. I don’t expect the national debt to suddenly be addressed wisely and effectively by clear-headed politicians committed to the public good regardless of personal cost. There’ll be another electronic gadget to revolutionize the world, which will turn out to be just another thing to buy, learn, maintain, then toss.
Underneath it all, I will still be me, and you will still be you. The basic human condition does not change, even though circumstances may. So, if you are looking for a truly New Year, I think Michael Jackson had it right (well, partly right, anyway):
I’m starting with the man in the mirror,
I’m asking him to change his ways,
And no message could have been any clearer,
If you wanna make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.
From “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson
He was right in that we have to look to ourselves and not our circumstances if we really want a New Year. Ultimately, the only thing we actually have any control over is us. Even our faith teaches us that God does His work with us and through us, not to us.
When it comes to that personal change, we all envision life-changing and world-changing resolutions, but I think that if you want a New Year, skip the grandiose resolutions and commit to a small, daily dose of Scripture and prayer, to regular participation in worship and fellowship, and a new avenue of service to others. It won’t turn things around tomorrow, but never underestimate the impact of small, consistent changes or what God can do through us when we just make ourselves open and available.
Happy New Year!
This column appeared in the January 3, 2021 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.