By the time you all are reading this, the event that is currently chasing around everyone’s social media feeds will be long since forgotten, however, right now, in this moment, it’s in the forefront of my mind. Last night, Steve Harvey, the fun-loving host of “Family Feud,” had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He’d spent the entire evening on live television circumnavigating the process of hosting the Miss Universe pageant, and when the climactic moment came, when he was supposed to announce the winner…he announced the wrong name (is this event coming back to any of you now?). Right there on national television, Steve Harvey watched as they crowned Miss Columbia as Miss Universe, watched her cry and wave and accept her flowers, only to have to come out on stage two minutes later and confess that he had made a huge error. He had, in fact, announced the first runner-up as the winner, and now she needed to take the crown off because Miss Philippines was the actual winner. It was awkward and kind of sad and a lot of levels of embarrassing, and as if it couldn’t get any worse, that night he took to Twitter to apologize and ended up spelling Philippines wrong (he spelled Philippians, so apparently the Bible was on his mind!). Another gaffe in an embarrassment-laden evening, and all I could imagine was him crawling into bed, throwing the covers over his head, and not leaving his house anytime soon.
The fact of the matter is, we all do things. Things that we’re embarrassed by, things that we regret, things that we wish more than anything we could take back. We make mistakes, and sometimes they’re relatively innocent, easily forgotten, but other times they feel catastrophic and you fear you might never escape from the weight of them. Every year when the calendar flips over to January, when the confetti is swept away, and the strains of Auld Lang Syne have faded, most of us sit down and contemplate what our new year is going to be like, what we’re going to do differently, what we’re going to try and let go, what we’re going to try and move on from. Every year, each of us looks for a fresh start, in hopes that some of the mistakes we made from the previous year won’t be repeated. There can be no doubt that this process can be healing, that it is good to reflect on where we’ve been and how we want to move forward, but sometimes in the midst of it all, we end up being really, really hard on ourselves. We beat ourselves up and we rehash all those mistakes before letting them go, and all of that pain and embarrassment comes creeping back up anew.
My wish for each of us as we enter into this new year of 2016 is that when we sit down to plan and think and lay out our goals, we start with how God has seen our past twelve months, how God sees us each and every day. God doesn’t sit around and wait for a new year to give us a fresh start. God doesn’t drag up the past and go over every miscue and error and decide what option is best. God simply looks at us and sees beloved children, beloved children who despite their screw-ups are forgiven and loved and given a fresh slate each and every day. God looks at us and sees us for the saints that we are, even when we have done nothing but screwed up and messed around in a whole lot of sin. God sees that, yes, but then God just keeps on loving and forgiving and starting over, with not a single look backward at what was. I pray that we might be able to give ourselves the same benefit of the doubt, the same level of love and appreciation, the same level of forgiveness. As 2016 begins, remember this…you are a wonderfully made member of God’s creation. You are forgiven. You are loved. You are not your mistakes. You are not your embarrassments. You are God’s, and that’s a pretty good place to start the new year.
Peace, happiness, forgiveness, and blessings to all of you as we walk into 2016 together.
Peace it Together,