Birthday Blog: A Clean Slate

There is a saying that goes “another year older, another year odder.”  As I age and notice certain ticks of quirkiness in myself I can’t help to think, “This definitely applies to me”.  Regardless of what beauty products you use or whether you shop in Forever 21 or not, time does not go backwards (regardless of what Doc Brown would like you to believe).  As we age we pick up habits.  Sometimes these are habits we have done our entire life, but it just took us 20, 30, 40 years to realize we were doing them (or a certain spouse to point them out).  Sometimes, because of our friends are or what new circumstances we have been placed in, we gain new quirks.  Either way, good or bad, there they are. 

Typically on December 31st or January 1st people sit down and review the previous year.  They evaluate what they would like to improve about themselves and what habits they want to kick.  I have been cursed blessed with having my day of birth come just 13 days after the first of the year.  You may recall that my New Year’s resolution is to “Worry Less and Love More.”  And it seems, just 13 days after I made that pronouncement, I am still sorely lacking in both areas. 

Some people tend to scoff at New Year’s resolutions because, let’s face it; most people don’t stick to them.  According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology only 64% of people who make resolutions keep them after a month and only 46% keep them past six months.  People who hate New Year’s Resolutions tend to question people’s integrity when they do 21 days of Thanks or give something up for Lent.  I definitely used to be one of those people (also known as a hater and I say, "haters to the left".).  So what changed?  I think I realized that people make resolutions, give up things for Lent, ect. Because they want a clean slate.  And to be honest, I want a clean slate, as much as (if not more) the next guy.  I remember playing the card game Slap Jack with my cousins growing up.  If you never played the game you are probably not from planet Earth, but I will explain it to you anyway.  One person passes out all of the cards to however many people are playing.  Each player take turns setting their cards face up in the middle in a pile.  Every player is on the edge of their seats because when a Jack card is played, each player tries to be the fastest at slapping it and takes all of the cards underneath the Jack.  Each game usually has at least one spat on who touched the Jack first.  The more players there are, the messier the debates become until finally someone says, “I call a do over.”  That is where no one gets the Jack and they continue to play until another Jack comes up.  I recall being so relieved when I asked for a do over and it was agreed upon.  Adults aren’t any different.  Each year, whether it is their birthday or the first of January, we are all looking for a do over, a clean slate  We do it each time we take Communion or go to Confession. 

All of us want to be a better version of ourselves.  Unfortunately, as I learned recently as church with Adam and Eve, it’s an impossible task to complete on your own.  The serpent told Eve that if she ate from the fruit she would know what God knew.  That didn’t work out so well for her in the end (Genesis 3).  In fact, the only way that it is possible is with God’s ultimate “do over”, Christ’s death on the cross.  Romans 3:10 says that we all screw up and believe you me, I know that all too well.  We all lose our patience, we all say things that we regret later and we all think things we shouldn’t.  These multiple seasons of “do overs” give us time to sit down and reflect on where we want to go with our life.  The awesome thing is we don’t have to sit around and wait for a clean slate or make one on our own.  One is already made available to us.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)  And it gets even better, Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Because of what Christ did, we get a clean slate, a major do over (v.19).  (Hooray!! )

Whether it is a New Year’s Resolution, a birthday, Lent or Communion, it is a time to reflect on where you have fallen short, but also a time to leave it there, at the foot of the cross, and to get up again, guilt free, a new person.  I think all of us need a clean slate.  It doesn’t make us any better or any worse than the Joe Schmo next to us.  It does make us fallen and in need of a Savior.  It makes us human.  I am constantly going to screw up, pick up terrible habits and be less than what I want to be, but I can rest assure that God is going to be right there with me to pick me up time and time again.  And for that, today of all days, I am grateful.  It's pretty much the best birthday gift ever.  Happy Birthday to me!

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