A Seventeen-Days-Late New Year’s Blessing

I know it’s three Fridays into the New Year. So posting a New Year’s blessing now feels late and a bit silly.

I also know it’s been two weeks since I blogged. I haven’t gotten up early every morning, and I’ve been writing a lot, but not 5 times a week. It’s discouraging to see myself fail to achieve my noble-minded New Year’s resolutions so quickly.

But maybe three weeks into 2014 is exactly when I need to be reminded that the year is still fresh and young. And maybe especially because those resolutions are already broken, it’s a good time to be reminded of grace. I shoot for the moon and miss on the first try. But thank goodness God isn’t done with this wayward archer.

Alina's Camera 00120

My mom tied up this poem with ribbon and gave it to me at Christmas. I love that it skirts the victorious sentimentalism of many New Year’s reflections. Rather, it focuses on a living relationship with God: sometimes gained through sorrow rather than joy; through failure rather than success. It’s a narrative of grace and a song of hope.

I hope it blesses you today.

New Year’s Blessing

In the new year I do not wish for you
that God will bless you,
since God already intends
only the deepest blessings for you.
I don’t wish that good things will happen to you,
since I don’t know
what will most beautifully shape your soul—
in what losses you will receive grace,
in what challenges you will gain wisdom,
in what struggles you will become more truly yourself.

Instead I hope for you this blessing:
that your heart be at peace,
that your mind be open
and your will be lovingly present;
that you live each day this year with love, courage and beauty,
with gentleness, trust and gratitude.
That you speak and be the truth,
that you find joy and wonder in your life,
that you be deeply mindful
of God’s indwelling presence,
God’s deep delight in accompanying you
in every breath.

May your work be fruitful,
your hope vibrant,
your voice clear,
and your friends faithful.

Whether you feel it or not,
deep blessing will be yours this year.
May you know it, and rejoice,
and live in harmony with God’s grace.

~Steve Garnaas-Holmes


OK, it’s time for Theology 101–a la YouTube!
I saw this video (below) on Facebook a few months ago. It’s humorous, but it also expresses the deep and sometimes mind-boggling concept of grace.
I’m a perfectionist (surprised?) As a teenager, I struggled furiously with the idea of God’s grace. Me, a fundamentally flawed person? Good enough only because of Jesus? I wanted to work hard enough, perform well enough, prove to God that I deserved His approval–as if God carried around a cosmic clipboard where I could earn His love if I just got enough check marks. I’d rather not be indebted to that guy Jesus. I’ll do it myself, thank you very much. Sometimes I got the puffed-up feeling I was doing pretty well at God’s game. Other times I was crushed beneath the weight of total inadequacy, failure, and self-loathing.
Maybe it was life experience, maybe tiredness, maybe the spirit of God catching up with my stubborn soul. But there came a day, my shoulders scrunched tight from trying to stand tall enough, when I realized I could exhale. Because Jesus paid it all. I read in Romans 8 that God has no condemnation for those who are in Jesus–that He keeps no cosmic clipboard, no record of check marks or failures. His son’s love is the amazing eraser of “good enough.” And that discovery was the relief of my life.

How have you experienced grace? From God? From other people?