We think of spring as a time of new beginnings. The air warms up, the trees bud, and creatures big and small emerge from a long winter’s nap. December, on the other hand, brings the first day of winter and marks the beginning of a three-month shutdown for much of the globe.
In my corner of the world, December means trees have lost their leaves and sap has stopped flowing under the bark. It means God’s creatures grow thicker coats and snuggle down in burrows for months on end, their systems shutting down for all but the most basic respiratory needs.
December is a time when friends and family shut themselves indoors, away from each other as well as away from the frigid winter air. The socializing of warm weather folk at baseball games, local playgrounds, and church picnics is traded in for a more hunkered down, solitary existence as we race, heads down, to toasty homes exchanging only cursory nods or quick hellos as we hustle from grocery stores to waiting cars, from schoolhouse doors to idling buses, and from busy workplaces to commuter trains as quickly as possible.
December: New Beginnings
Yet spring is not the only time we should be celebrating new beginnings. In fact, December may be the greatest time of new beginnings. December brings a new church year, the start of Advent, and Christmas, a the celebration of the ultimate new beginning in the form of The Baby born in a stable centuries ago. Now is the time to reflect on the year behind but also to welcome the new beginnings ahead.
It’s amazing how things we sometimes think of as endings are actual new beginnings. From personal experience, I know the devastation I felt when my husband suddenly announced he was leaving. They say divorce is worse than death, and in many ways this might be true. It certainly was a death of our marriage. but it was an increase in suffering and pain and hostility, and I thought my world had ended.
I imagine that must have been what it felt like for the early disciples when Jesus died. He was their Hope and then He was gone. A shaking of the earth, a ripping of a veil, and a last gasp before He was no more – or so they thought. The disciples hid themselves away, shut away in an attic, keeping their heads down, their hearts cold and hurting, and yet. They were experiencing the coldest winter of their lives, and yet the Glorious Mysteries of the most Holy Rosary begin after that last gasp had been taken. The Lord took an ending and made it an incredible beginning.
We see the same thing happening during life’s winter seasons, seasons marked on a calendar’s page and in our cold, closed off hearts. We think of this season as a time to shut ourselves away, to keep our heads down and avoid contact, a time to hurry from one thing we must do to the next, but not as a time to reach out and make connections or laugh in the open air, to seek Jesus and Communion and Love, and yet maybe that’s exactly why we celebrate Jesus’ birth now.
When the Earth Seems to be Dying
We celebrate this new beginning at a time when the earth seems to be dying in order to remind us to begin anew now, today, even when the cold is around us. The birth of Jesus reminds us that with God all things are possible, even starting over at a time when starting over seems impossible.
Through my website, Single Mom Smiling, I continue to write about the pain of divorce for several reasons. First and foremost I write because I want people to know the Truth. Too many people think, “divorce is just part of the territory nowadays,” to borrow a line from one of my favorite movies, Fireproof, and that, as such, divorce is normal and needs to be made acceptable. Truth tells us though that there is nothing “normal” when God’s gift of Marriage and Family are betrayed and broken. It is a crime against humanity that leaves lasting scars. It is a winter season, a death that seems to provide no resurrection.
The Pain of Divorce
While I will bear the scare of divorce for the remainder of my days on earth, I also know you can’t stay stuck forever. At some point, you have to pick up the pieces and move forward. You have to believe your Father in Heaven has a plan and a purpose for you, and that you are His valuable child. You can’t sit and wait for self worth to fall into your lap any more than you can wait for the perfect job opportunity, the perfect diet, or winning lottery tickets to present themselves, as if a fairy godmother had waved her magic wand over your life. You can’t sit and wait for a new beginning. You have to go out and find it!
As Catholics, we are blessed with the knowledge that we can begin each day anew. We do not have to wait for spring or even for New Year’s Day to decide to make changes. While the rest of the world is pledging to make 2016 different, to begin losing weight, quit smoking, drop porn addictions, and get out of debt beginning January 1st, many will stumble and fall in their goals soon after the new year begins. That stumbling will bring an end to their lofty goals.
As Catholics we know tomorrow is never guaranteed. We know we can begin to make changes right now, even in our winter season. We can decide to ask forgiveness by going to Confession at any time, and we can realize we are made new in Christ, washed clean by His blood. We can decide to make a change. We can decide to take steps forward. We can realize that we might stumble and fall but that even our Savior stumbled and fell three times on the path that led to His calling.
We can look in the mirror and ask ourselves hard questions. We can take our time to answer slowly some days, waiting patiently for the Lord to give us His ideas. We can quickly spit out random answers at other times, brainstorming until the Holy Spirit tells us we’ve struck powerfully, but what we cannot do is sit idly by and wait for life to get better.
Life is often difficult, but we don’t have to remain in the valleys forever. As Catholics, we are called to be more every day – even in our winters! At some point, most of us will meet with a season of cold, a time we want to lock ourselves away, but no matter how bad things get, we can’t remain in the negative forever. At some point, we must pick up the pieces and move on. We must take risks knowing our value comes from God, not in the opinions of others. We must reach out again and again to live and laugh and Love. We must learn to uncover faith, hope, love, joy, and all the many gifts God gives us.
My hope for all is that we not wait to find a new beginning January 1st or spring or some random day that seems perfect in the future because perfect days aren’t real. There is no perfect time to begin anew other than right now, whenever now is.
No matter whether life is going along just fine or if you’ve hit a few speed bumps, make the decision to begin anew now, today, right here, in your winter season. Remember, tomorrow is not guaranteed. December is the perfect time for new beginnings. You don’t need to accept average in others. You don’t need to accept mediocrity in yourself.
Put an end to a lukewarm faith and a lukewarm existence. Step out of your comfort zone today and discover the more God is calling you to be, and then keep picturing yourself at this time next year. How will your corner of the world have changed if you reach for your new beginning today by living your call to more?
Need help finding your call to more? Contact me at TRPLifeCoaching!