If someone calls you (or me) ‘two faced’, it is not a compliment.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, they are saying that we are hypocritical or double-dealing; that we are deceitful – a trickster – a con artist – trouble… and that starts with ‘t’ which rhymes with ‘d’ and that stands for dishonest.
Like I said, it is not a compliment.
Here we all stand at the first of a new year – a year that begins with the month of January.
In the earliest Roman calendars, March was the 1st month of the year – which is why October (from the root for ‘8’) is actually the 10th month nowadays.
By 450 BC (Roman historians differ on exactly when…) the months of January and February were added and the shift from a lunar year to a year based on the earth’s journey around the sun, at the point of our equator, became the standard.
They named the ‘cold month’ the month of January in honor of the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, Janus. Janus is almost always depicted as a two-faced god, looking forward (to the future) and backwards (to the past).
The idea is pretty clear – January is a time to consider the past – lessons learned, goals achieved, etc. – and to lean toward the future – set new goals, make new plans, and so forth.
The practice carries through to our day. It is time to do end-of-year performance reviews at work and to close out the fiscal-books in order to file taxes. It is also time to set new MBO goals and rethink the budget (personal and corporate) in light of new tax laws, new projected expenses, and the like.
It seems always a story of what’s old is new again each year… popular New Year’s resolutions for 2013 have some pretty familiar themes. Generally speaking, people want to…
- Work smarter
- Spend more time with family and/or friends
- Eat healthier
- Exercise more regularly
- Stretch their minds
- Spend less
- Save more
- Take up a hobby
In spite of all those good intentions, researchers tell us that, while not everyone actually sets New Year’s resolutions, 9 out of 10 who do will have forgotten them in 3-6 weeks!
Even in our advanced information age of 2013, with hundreds of self-help books and thousands of similarly themed blogs and websites designed to help us improve on these woeful statistics, the effectiveness of this whole enterprise continues to evade the overwhelming majority of us.
Still millions of people have or will pull a Janus in the next few days – taking time to look back and evaluate then a little more time to look forward and set goals.
I am not writing to necessarily discourage the practice or offer ‘5 easy steps to reaching your New Year’s resolutions in 2013.’
Instead, I wanted to make a simple observation that I am seeking to live in during this season of my own life.
I have, of late, been captured by the todays of Scripture. For example:
- “TODAY the LORD has brought you out by the power of His mighty hand…” (Ex 13:3)
- “…listen carefully to everything I command you TODAY…” (Ex 34:11)
- “…TODAY I am giving you the choice between life and death…” (Deut 30:15)
- “…TODAY we know that the LORD is among us…” (Joshua 22:31)
- “…choose TODAY whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15)
- “…you have been amazingly kind to me TODAY…” (I Sam 24:18)
- “…TODAY the LORD has rescued you…” (2 Sam 18:31)
- “…for TODAY is a sacred day before the LORD…” (Neh 8:9)
- “Give us TODAY the food we need…” (Matt 6:11)
- “We have seen amazing things TODAY!” (Luke 5:26)
- “God has visited His people TODAY.” (Luke 7:16)
- “TODAY is the day of salvation…” (2 Cor 6:2)
- “TODAY when you hear His Voice, don’t harden your hearts…” (Heb 4:7)
- “THIS IS THE DAY the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps 118:24)
I could go on and on and on… but you get the idea.
Meditating on these sorts of words, coupled with my own relational experience with God, is leading me to a number of places. Chief among them is this:
I am missing way too many todays while reflecting on yesterdays and setting goals for tomorrows.
I am increasingly convinced that full and meaningful life – the kind of life everyone longs for – the kind of life that Jesus actually lived – and the kind of life He advises and facilitates for absolutely anyone to live – is only lived… TODAY.
The more time I spend in yesterday, the longer my list of irreparable regrets.
The more time I spend in tomorrows, the heavier my anxieties seem to become.
But, when I attend to today I am, almost without exception, wowed beyond my ability to comprehend or process.
- Little things become filled with meaning and value.
- Interruptions become divine appointments.
- Irritations become places for gratitude.
NOTHING changes externally. EVERYTHING changes internally.
So, I guess the irony of my post is this: I do have a New Year’s resolution – but it is to spend less time doing the sorts of things inherent in a resolution and more time being in this very moment… less time pondering the past or planning the future and more time enjoying the moment.
That seems specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding and time stamped!
I invite you to join me.