“Why am I afraid to dance, I who love music and rhythm and grace and song and laughter? Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beauty of flesh and the living colors of the earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid to love, I who love love?”
— Eugene O’Neill
This quote made me think of my New Year’s resolution for 2009, which I foolishly documented here. I say foolish because, like most February reflections on New Year’s resolutions, mine carry a faint scent of shame.
After proclaiming that I wanted to “open my arms to life” in 2009, I set off on an adventure to Germany – the two month outreach phase of the DTS I’m staffing. And guess what? Yep, having trouble savoring life here, too. Contentment sliding out of my grasp like a bar of soap, loneliness always hovering over my shoulder, moodiness and selfishness my constant companions.
But. If there is one thing I’ve learned during my year in Europe, it’s that change is not an event, it’s a process. Wait, I know what you’re thinking: duh. (Or you would be, if people still said “duh”). The thing is I’m not sure if I was unaware of this fact of reality or if I was just stubbornly unwilling to accept it. I’m reminded of Donald Miller quoting his friend in Searching for God Knows What: “Reality is like fine wine. It will not appeal to children.” My childish need for instant gratification tends to make bold statements about changing myself, and then stamps its foot and pouts when that change takes more than a good night’s sleep.
So I’m beginning to accept that major personality and lifestyle transformation takes a few more moons than I want. But way better than that lesson is the one I’ve learned about how Jesus sees our change. I always pictured Him rolling His eyes and sighing loudly as I fall and pick myself up and say, “Now, this time I’ll really do it!” In this case, reality is sweeter than fine wine, it’s more like honey. The reality is that Jesus delights in the process of change. He doesn’t get exasperated and He doesn’t scoff when we make optimistic resolutions.
Anne Lamott (yes, her again) describes this beautifully in an essay about learning to forgive her dead mother. At the end of the essay, Lamott takes a small step toward forgiveness by moving her mother’s ashes from the back of her closet to the mantel in her living room. She says of Jesus, “I don’t think much surprises him: this is how we make important changes—barely, poorly, slowly. And still, he raises his fist in triumph.”
It’s just another way we’re totally different, Jesus and I. But I hope to learn to enjoy the journey of change with Him, to delight in the burning in our calves as we scale inclines, to love the wind in my hair when we run down hillsides with ease, to stretch out and rest in the valleys and be refreshed by the fine wine of reality with Him.
**Note: The above picture was taken on from a hilltop in the Beaujolais wine region of France, where I picnicked on Brie, baguettes, and wine and loved every minute of it. I thought it was a good accompaniment to a quote about savoring life…