Every year after Christmas, my entire being finds itself in an odd funk, a strange cloud of melancholy.
After the slow and glorious build to Christmas Day, I’m left feeling the dread of What next?
And it wasn’t until yesterday that I could name it, put a face and identity to the monster heckling me at the corner of Old and New, Past and Future.
The Fear Monster hides himself under a dark cloak, but somehow he’s in my head and under my skin before I can even catch a glimpse of him.
He’s there, hovering, and my anxiety rises every passing moment, so that the new Year is only a scary shadow, a ghost waiting to take me into oblivion.
Flannery O’Connor prays:
Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon.
The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing.
My fear is that I won’t get past what was broken in myself in 2013, in 2012, in 1989 when I was just a babe.
Fear tells me that all I failed at this year will repeat itself in an ugly loop, and my own shadow will encompass all that I am in 2015 and beyond. Do you fear it, too, friend?
But we must fight the Fear Monster.
The truth is, the moon outshines the shadow, the moon reflects the sun and burns with blue light.
And the truth is, God’s present faithfulness is with me in every failing and every success, so I mustn’t be afraid.
My fear is that I will keep trying and no fruit will multiply, no goal will be reached.
I will keep trying to write, but it won’t publish.
I will keep trying to love my boys, but I will end up frustrated and impatient.
I will keep trying to waste less, but I will choose convenience.
I will keep trying to stay on top of everything, my lists, my chores, the details, and I will fail.
It’s almost climbing season here in Georgia, and Travis is coming to life just thinking about it. The past two times I tried to start climbing with him, I got pregnant, and thus ended my hopes for a new hobby with my husband.
But I found my climbing shoes the other day, one packed into a bag under Isaiah’s crib and another in the boys’ closet, shoved to the bottom of a storage bin.
I’m going to get them out soon, and we are going to hope for the chance to start climbing again, our two adventurous boys in tow.
I don’t understand much about it, but it seems that there is a point in every climber’s ascent towards the top of the rock where they hit a wall. They must choose to move forward, to continue the climb, or go back to the safety of feet on the ground.
But something beautiful waits at the top, something new and glorious. There is a view of the entire climb, a view of the horizon stretching all around, the paths that brought us to the base of the rock in the first place.
We just have to fight the Fear Monster when he nips at our ankles and tries to pull us back down, and we have to continue on, remembering the truth of the beauty that waits at the top.
We usher in the New Year with hope, with a heart of adventure, with a jump in our step.
And we do it together, with the presence of community, with friends to peel back our shadows and give us extra shielding from the bitter bite of our monsters.
Let us say goodbye to the fear of last year, and usher in all the newness of 2015 with confidence in who we are and who we’re called to be. And that’s a hopeful future, indeed.
Happy New Year!