There is something about Christmas that brings out the conservative in me. It represents for me all of the dependable, known traditions of the past. It calls forth that introverted piece of me that just wants to stay inside, wrapped safe and snug—the part of me that doesn’t want anything to change.
And yet there is this other part of me—this New Year’s part that can’t wait for this year to be done. The liberal part wants to take big risks, try new things, and commit myself to fresh experiences.
Yet so strong are each of these impulses that I often find myself caught “in-between” wondering which one is really me.
If you think about it, you may realize that we live a lot of life in a kind of paradox. Many of us live year-round with contradictory values we don’t really know how to resolve.
So this year…
- Do you plan to put your greatest energy into your vocational life or your personal life?
- Will you be focused on completing a set of important tasks or on building into your life more rest and recreation?
- Do you anticipate spending the bulk of your spare volunteer hours with the church or with some community activity?
- Will you work harder at the vocational skills that will get you a raise or grow your business, or at the social skills that will get you a good job and family?
- Will your role as a spouse or as parent assume a greater share of your passion this year?
- Should your big decisions this year be governed by a commitment to prudence or a willingness to risk?
You see what I mean, don’t you? How do you choose between all things good?
Sometimes I simply try to honor them all, simultaneously. Do it all. Please everybody. But that never seems to work. Or I decide I can’t do it all and a pick one to major on and set it in stone. Then there are things left undone! Wow…you see what I mean.
Maybe Jesus could give us a clue.
In the gospels Jesus is not driven by the need to embody all qualities simultaneously, nor does he choose only one. Instead he seems to move in rhythm with the Spirit. It goes something like this—grace and truth, rest and work, mercy and judgment, freedom and discipline, acceptance and confrontation.
Watching Jesus live was like watching a great speed skater or runner in action. We see the powerful muscles of his character driving down on one value, then shifting to the other side.
This shouldn’t surprise us. Do you know that the word “paradox” itself is actually composed of two words: “para” meaning “alongside”; and “doxa” meaning “glory”?
The most glorious way of life possible springs out of that constant movement of the spirit that keeps us from getting stuck too long in one place or from trying to be in all places at once.
So this year, with the Spirit’s help, let’s hope to keep moving in rhythm alongside Him who makes all things good!