I always enjoy starting a new calendar. As the old year winds down, I go through the process of going over the old calendar and transferring any dates and appointments I need to remember such as birthdays, anniversaries, when to get the car inspected, etc. The new calendar with its fresh unblemished pages always represents hope to me. While the old calendar has something written on almost every day, the new calendar is relatively empty and full of potential. What will fill those days? That is the mystery yet to be discovered. I admit, I don't necessarily approach the new year with the same unbridled enthusiasm as I had as I child, or that my children now possess. I know that the new year will bring sadness as well as joy, but I do hope that there will be more of one than the other.
I try not to make New Year's resolutions. It's not that I think that they are bad. Obviously, we should all work to improve ourselves. Honestly, it is just that I know that I won't keep them. Against my better judgment, last January I had made one goal (just one!) for the past year. I couldn't make it happen despite my best efforts which only leaves me feeling disappointed. Apparently, it just wasn't meant to be. Yet, there were many, many good things that happened during the year, things that I couldn't have predicted looking at the blank calendar in the beginning of January. Every year unfolds in ways I can't imagine. With each year, I'm getting a little better at letting go of any plans I might have and letting God lead my days.
I was flipping through a women's magazine today that was full of ways to make the most of our lives in the new year. There was advice on dieting and health and making better use of our time. These are all good things. Yet, it seems that the most important advice was missing: the importance of trusting in God in the new year. Without God, all our best laid plans, whether they come to fruition or not, are not worth much. It is God who gives meaning to our days. It is only through prayer that we can come to know the will of God for our lives. It is only through spending quality time with God and offering our days to him that we can walk in his paths.
In Mother Teresa's Secret Fire: The Encounter That Changed Her Life and It Can Transform Your Own, Fr. Joseph Langford writes how “prayer was the flame that rekindled the secret fire she carried within. . . She knew that everything stands or falls depending on the depth of one's prayer.” It is only through prayer that our lives can be transformed and we become instruments of God's will. Hand in hand with prayer goes faith. “Faith is a compass that infallibly points to true north, illuminating the presence, and the personality of God – even in the darkest night.” Mother Teresa held firm to her faith even in the midst of incredible poverty and hardship. She truly believed that God loved her and all of his creatures and that He wants only the best for us. God can bring good out of the worst calamity. God is always there with us. In this new year, we can follow Mother Teresa's advice. We can pray and have faith in God in both the good and the bad moments that may come our way. We, too, can know that God loves us and has our best interests at heart. We can choose to walk in his will for the coming year. Then, when this year's calendar has been all filled up, we will know that we spent the gift of time the way we were meant to.