Thursday, January 2, 2014

On New Year's Resolutions and 5th Grade Yearbooks

As it is merely the second day of 2014, tons of posts cover social media on the topic of New Year’s resolutions, ranging from “I’m already perfect, so why would I want to change anything?” to “I want to change everything about myself.” Given that the smart people who write books and speak at conferences suggest that successful people set and pursue achievable goals, I’m not sure that either of these extremes is completely healthy. But what I want to address is the same issue that has plagued me since about 5th grade.

The last day of fifth grade, all of the people in my class mingled about in the fifth grade hall area signing the yearbooks of the people you had been in class with for the majority of elementary school and people you had never met before. At a private school of that size, there wasn’t much of an in between. This was the year that people learned that signing yearbooks could be a time to do more than show of your penmanship and super mature looking signature. You could impart wisdom or a heartfelt message to your closest friends and strangers.

And thus, H.A.G.S., the heartfelt wishing of a wonderful break upon every other student. H.A.G.S. on H.A.G.S. So much H.A.G.S. But apart from H.A.G.S. and all its variations, and extended deep into even high school, was the troubling message “Never change.”

This could not have been more bothersome. At the end of every year, I would come home burdened by the curse of my classmates. “Never change.” In reality, their thought process may have looked like this: Jenna is nice. I would like it if she stayed nice.

But my thought process was, as usual, much more impassioned: Never change! What a terrible, evil thing to wish upon someone! Sure, I’ll just not change. No big deal. I’m sure 7th grade Jenna will have great success making friends in high school, getting the grade in college, and landing a job to teach people no less mature than herself. (I blame this curse as the sole reason that I look the same as I did in 8th grade.) And beside all of those practical things, wouldn’t it be great never to be more patient or joyful or gracious? No. I was having none of that. I am still having none of that.

I recognize that change is scary. But scarier is stagnancy. I’m not about just any change. Change is not good for the sake of change. I’m for growth. My trusty dictionary app, which I probably use more than any other proud owner of a dictionary app, says that to grow is “to spring up and develop to maturity.” I want that.

In Christ, I have been made whole and justified in the sight of God, which is reality, and which provides great comfort. As a human, however, I get to experience the frustrations and joys of developing and growing in reflecting this truth and growing in knowledge and wisdom. I want to chase and enjoy these experiences. I want to change, and not just because it’s a new year. I want to be more loving, more understanding, bolder, more well-read, kinder. And I believe that it is okay to be content in the process, so that’s where I choose to live.

For these reasons, I hope you always change. I hope and pray that whatever 2014 brings, whatever your stance on resolutions and goal-making, that this year would not be one void of the change necessary to bring more beauty and meaning to your life. Friends, I hope to love you right where you are at every step of your change.

In process,


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