It feels like yesterday that I wrote about 'new year, new me season' that seems to descend upon us like the plagues of Egypt every 12 months. Ah yes, another round of cut-offs, clearing social media friend feeds and contact lists. And lest we forget the 300,000 vision board party flyers. I mean, nothing against it but seventy-five bucks for me to use my own glue stick, glitter, and scissors to create a homemade poster while someone stands in their cute-fit to the front of the room—hmm, no thanks. (insert trapsy emoji)
Nonetheless, I was not at all enthused by the impending possibility of yet another 365 to make any major changes, other than to ensure my words matched my actions. Still, I was reminded of the sentiment that "The more things change, the more they remain the same." Or "There is nothing new under the sun!" Oh boy, I was about to descend into the rabbit hole of revolving thoughts.
To be completely honest, I was conflicted; you'll. On the one hand, the famous quote that says, 'the only constant in life is change,' denotes that change should happen, and if it's not, maybe something somewhere isn't growing. But then my life in Christendom echoes God doesn't change. So, do I change or nah?
If He's (God) the same yesterday, today, and forever, you know, the 'if He did it before he can do it again' person—then why does it seem that for many the notion of 'new year, new me' fizzles and fades even before the fireworks are over? How does this God who hasn't changed, since Abraham, Issac and Jacob, encourage change? And how on God's green earth can something change yet remain the same?
Same Guilt, Same Grief
Lately, I was told some not-so-good news about someone that had done me wrong many years ago. Everything in me wanted to say, "Ha, das what ya get, heffa!" and immediately I was convicted. 'Cause in truth, what they did to me was no different than when I lied on my Customs Exemption Form about how much I really spent in the U.S. to avoid paying taxes. It was no different than when I sat at my work desk and did not hit a lick for Ceaser but collected my whole salary with such a smile and entitlement. What this person did was no different than me being the condescending prick I could sometimes be.
In my haste to sit in a comfy seat of judgment, grace reminded me that I, too, was not in the same predicament because of mercy. What started as a moment for me to gloat turned into a moment of repentant gratefulness. The truth is, I am equally as guilty as any person I feel has ever wronged me.
On the other hand, grief is one of those things we give little validity to. It doesn't happen only when someone dies. In actuality, we grieve anything that is lost. No? Lose your whole Asue (an asue is a rotation of credit and savings among a defined group of people) draw then, and I promise you, your entire digestive system will malfunction. #bellybreakdown
Still, when people can't understand why you are still pining over an old flame two years later, their lack of empathy may seem insensitive to you. Well, because we don't equate heartbreak with grief. When in actuality, heartbreak is a form of grief. There's nothing like losing someone you care about, even if they are still alive; that loss has a powerful impact on you.
Guilt and grief can often coincide with each other. These are two emotions that can keep many of us chained to habits or the notion that we are no longer entitled to receive anything good. For others, these emotions are a constant reminder of who they once were rather than a gauge of how far they've come. However, we find David doing something that goes contrary to what the norm dictates we should do in the face of guilt coupled with grief.
Let me set the stage for ya. So after the whole 'David kill Uriah over Bathsheba fiasco,' the Prophet Nathan came to David and told him a horrendous, heartbreaking story. One of a rich man who had a multitude of cattle, yet he took from a poor man the one lamb he had and killed it to eat. David, of course, became outraged and said any man who would do such a thing deserves to die. #slewdem Plot twist—Ahh, David, said man is you, aye. #bingbong Remember this whole thing happened because Bathsheba was pregnant, and it was an effort to cover it up. But here is what happens next:
David prayed to God that the child would get well. He refused to eat anything, and every night he went into his room and spent the night lying on the floor. His court officials went to him and tried to make him get up, but he refused and would not eat anything with them.
A week later the child died, and David's officials were afraid to tell him the news. They said, "While the child was living, David wouldn't answer us when we spoke to him. How can we tell him that his child is dead? He might do himself some harm!" When David noticed them whispering to each other, he realized that the child had died. So he asked them, "Is the child dead?" "Yes, he is," they answered.
David got up from the floor, had a bath, combed his hair, and changed his clothes. Then he went and worshipped in the house of the LORD. When he returned to the palace, he asked for food and ate it as soon as it was served. "We don't understand this," his officials said to him. "While the child was alive, you wept for him and would not eat; but as soon as he died, you got up and ate!" "Yes," David answered, "I did fast and weep while he was still alive.
I thought that the LORD might be merciful to me and not let the child die. But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Could I bring the child back to life? I will someday go to where he is, but he can never come back to me." Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba. He had intercourse with her, and she bore a son, whom David named Solomon. The LORD loved the boy. (2 Samuel 12:16-24)
Lesson: When grief meets grace, it births a gift.
Same Gift, Same Goal
Ahhh, Solomon, his life alone can give you lessons for days. Even though David messed up, that didn't put a monkey wrench in the plan God had. #byanymeansnecessary But because of David's indiscretions, the assignment of building the temple was passed down to his son, Solomon.
Hence we see that Solomons's life accurately depicts that goals and gifts aren't mutually exclusive. Meaning one doesn't cancel out the next. Let me say it to you like this, if you've ever had an idea laid upon your heart to do and you talked yourself out of it, be it from fear, lack of resources, lack of preparation, yada, yada, yada, yada—rest assured someone else will carry out the vision.
Hear me out, have you ever had an idea, and you sat on that thing incubating it like some hen on an egg? Next thing you know, someone on Facebook posts a flyer 'coming soon,' with all the details identical to those thoughts you had. (insert the laugh that turns to a cry) All I can say is, it epitomizes "cause you was joking" becoming a person.
The goals and the gifts are all the same. How any of it comes into being, depends not on the most available but the most willing vessel. What's the point of being gifted if you only want to remain unseen? What's the point of acquiring knowledge and sharpening tools if you are adamant about being behind the scenes? Pray, tell why our Father who only gives good gifts needn't give any to you?
All the God-given gifts are distributed to achieve the same goal—that the glory of God may be manifested on the earth. What you refuse to do, no, scratch that; what you have been disqualified from doing will be done by someone else—believe that. Let's not get it twisted, the plan was for David to build the temple, but many of his actions disqualified him.
Lesson: Just because you have the gift doesn't mean you'll be the one to achieve the goal. The gift must be (given) surrendered in order to reach the goal.
Same God, Same Guarantee (Same Ol 'G)
So how on earth can 'new' and 'same' co-exist? 'Cause here we are another new year, amidst some added chaos—a global pandemic in all. Now for clarity, I'm not talking about the same ole G, Genuwine was singing about in the '90s, no, no. The same God has the power to make things new. Most simplistically, this is evident because day follows night.
God is the same, and by 'same,' I mean His nature (character). It's His methods (the way He does things) that changes. Sis what?! Make it make sense. Okay, if you're a parent of more than one child, you can't think for a minute that you can apply the same love language or methods of punishment to all your kids. They are all, by nature (personality), different and won't respond the same. If you're single but have had a few relationships, you can't love bae of today by the standards of bae of yesteryear.
That's part of our problem; we expect God to show up for us how He showed up for someone else. Seriously, can you imagine God blessing you (and I say that loosely) with a husband like your friend's? #whewchile Paging Judge Lynn Toler. Or if He really gave you the big house. But sis, you don't keep the apartment clean now. Better yet, if He had given you the promotion. Friend, now you know your computer be shut down from 4:40 pm and 3:30 pm on Friday's. While time (seasons) change, God's desire for us remains the same: For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
While this year is new and our issues similar, the outcome will not look the same for many. All I know is this, as written by Peter: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 ESV
Lesson: While God's guarantee to all of us is the same. How it manifests in each individual life will always change. #newyear #sameincredibleG