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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year’s Resolution

“Yesterday is history,
Tomorrow is a mystery,
But
today is a gift.
That’s why it’s called the Present” (Unknown)
This year I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the future. I graduate in May and there are a lot of uncertainties. I’m moving out, but where am I moving to? Will I get into graduate school? Which school will I get into? If I don’t get into graduate school, what will I do?
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for
tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”.
(Matthew 6:34)
Next year will be a year of changes for me, a year of firsts. I’ll be living in an apartment and paying my own bills. I’ll have a job and be supporting myself. I’ll be starting over, most likely in a state I’ve never lived in before. And I wonder if I’ll be able to handle it?
These roses under my windows make no
reference to former roses or better ones; they are for what they are; they exist
with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is
perfect in every moment of its existence” (Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Self-Reliance)
I will most probably be farther from my friends and family than ever be before (except when I was in Oxford), and I know that will be hard. I’m going to miss them. In my four years at college I’ve learned so much, and I’ve truly come to love my University and the friends and professors I have there. How hard will it be to leave it all behind?
“And how could we endure to live and
let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back—if
we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation
and memory and that these are that day?” (C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet)
So this is my New Year’s Resolution. Not to lose weight or work out more (though I do want to train for the Disney Princess ½ Marathon in March). My New Year’s Resolution is this: To live, as much as I can, in the present. I will take what time I’m given and live it as the gift it is. I will try not to worry about tomorrow, or have regrets about the past, but consider the unknown as unknown and accept what has happened yesterday as lessons for today. Today I am alive, and that is all I need to know.
Carpe diem! (Horace)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peace

Isaiah 9:6-7a
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.

Christ was not born into a time of peace. At the time of His birth, Israel was occupied by the Roman Empire. And very shortly after His birth, Mary, Joseph, and their Son had to flee to Egypt to escape the persecution of King Herod (Matt.2). Sometimes, it seems like so many of the words sung around Christmas time are mocking the real situations facing us in the world. Where is peace to be found in a world of poverty, a world of war, a world of hatred? Yet Jesus’ birth came with the promise peace. Where is it to be found?


Here is a link to Simon and Garfunkle’s Silent Night/Seven O’Clock news. It’s the words of Silent Night overlapped with a newscast and captures, I think some of the contradiction of celebrating “Peace on Earth” in a time of war.

I wish I had something more to say, something about finding peace in our own lives and sharing it with others, but I don’t have the words for it. But I do hope that all of you can find peace this Christmas Season.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Grace

Last year around this time I wrote three Christmas stories (scroll down). This year, I will do something different, and write about three things I’m aware of this Christmas Season. And the first of these is Grace.


I tend to write my school papers at the last minute, and anyone who’s ever lived with me will tell you that’s an understatement. But I once wrote a paper at the absolute last minute, that is, in the couple of hours I had between my first class of the day and the class it was due in. It wasn’t the world’s worse paper, but certainly wasn’t up to my usual standards. It was too short, the argument was poor, the writing was far from my normal quality, and I hadn’t spent nearly enough time on it. But I turned it in. And it was from this paper that I learned what is perhaps the best lesson I’ve had in college.

I got an ‘A’ on the paper.

I was excepting a ‘C’, or maybe a ‘B’ if my professor was being nice. But not an ‘A’. I’d written several papers for this professor before, so she knew what I was capable of. So to receive an ‘A’ on such a poorly written paper was a shock. And I felt bad about it. I’d put almost no effort and the minimal amount of time into my paper. I didn’t deserve to get an ‘A’ on it. So I did what no sane student would ever do: I went to see my professor and tried to argue down my grade.

I told her how little time I’d spent on it, pointed out all the flaws, explained that there was no way on earth this paper deserved an ‘A’. I reminded her of the quality of my other papers, and showed how this one fell short of that standard. But she refused to change the grade, and told me that just as she wouldn’t let a student argue for a higher grade, she wouldn’t let me argue for a lower one (though I think she was a bit amused by it).

As I turned to leave her office, my professor had one more thing to say to me. “Emma,” she said, “Learn to live with grace”.

Learn to live with grace. How often I forget that’s what I do everyday. Every time I pray, every time I call myself a Christian, I am living with grace. Yet I so rarely remember that. How easily I accept and live with what Christ did for me, and how hard I struggle with an underserved grade! What a backwards way of doing things. I wonder if it’s because grace, God’s Grace, is so huge, so all-encompassing, that if I were to live every moment in awareness of it, I would be overwhelmed. And so, living with grace, in the context of my day-to-day life comes easier than living with grace in the smaller moments. But it is these moments, the underserved grade, the surprise gift, the unlooked for praise, that bring me back into my awareness of the great Grace I have already received, and continue to receive each day.
Selah
Though my heart refuses
And my mind resists,
Though it seems my very being
Reviles at what is being asked—

Though I cannot be humble
And I swell with pride,
Though society says I am wrong,
This is my vow today—

I will not, not I say,
Refuse grace.

Let my pride burn
Where I belong.
Let me not forget
What I deserve.

I will not, not I say,
Refuse grace.

I will let the door be held open.
I will take what is offered.
I will accept what is freely give.
I will remember this is not about me.

I will not, not I say,
Refuse grace.

Selah