If history were a diner menu and you could order anything you wanted, what would it be? Would you ask for two days of childhood – over easy with a side of laughter? Or a short stack of teenage glory days and a shot of puppy love? Maybe you’d long for a rerun of those crazy family reunions, “hold the Uncle Joe please,” or a lunch portion of one on one time with Grandma, when she still had that uncanny ability to see right through you and love you anyway. The possibilities seem endless, kind of like the menu at Cheesecake Factory. (I’m so overwhelmed by the choices I can hardly make up my mind when we go there!) But perhaps you crave something that just isn’t on the menu. Something that has left a nameless hunger that nothing in your past can fill.
Sometimes I crave things. Then I go to the refrigerator and stand there holding the door open, staring at the stuff I eyeballed just a few minutes ago. Nothing has moved. No new items have appeared. I’m disappointed. Then I’ll check the pantry, hoping to find the thing I long for, but I don’t know what it is. Occasionally I’ll just have a bowl of cereal and the craving will subside. But in my heart of hearts, I know it’s not cereal that I really wanted.
This is happening to me now. I’m craving something. And I know that if I go into the kitchen, the same foods I saw at breakfast time will greet me. But I’m bored with those. And I’m not really hungry anyway. I’ve avoiding.
Avoidance is a great vehicle for getting nowhere. I’ve been riding it for several days now. January does this to me sometimes. I always begin the year with reflections and resolutions. I write them down. I compare them with other years. And I can become depressed because they are generally the same. Year after year my flaws appear unchanged. When will I get this right, God? What happens between January and January that keeps me from being the overcomer I long to be? So, this year I’ve managed to avoid the reflections and resolutions so far. Can you believe it’s already the 12th of January? Nor can I. Time flies when you fill your life with everything you can think of in order to avoid doing the thing you are called to do.
You see, I believe God calls me to reflect. But I resist because I feel that I’ve failed somehow. If I don’t think about it, it never happened, right? WRONG! If I don’t think about it, I’m in denial. Denial (as they say in AA) can be a very dangerous river.
Have you noticed how God’s timing is perfection? At this moment, our 12 Step group is working Step 4, which says, “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Writing that inventory is my “homework” for this month. As part of that group, as a leader, in fact, I’m expected to participate in working the program. And I even preached a whole sermon on Step 4 yesterday. (You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1Xb7NHIUC0) So why am I avoiding the writing? And what am I hungry for?
In my search for answers, I landed upon a blog post by Bob Kelleman on the Biblical Counseling Coalition website. He says, “Reflecting on our past is our admission to ourselves and God that we can’t handle our past on our own, that we desperately need Christ.” The rest of the post, entitled “Should I Try To Forget My Past?” can be found here: http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/blogs/2011/08/22/should-i-try-to-forget-my-past/
Writing this book has been both cathartic and painful. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the distant past. These next chapters are tough ones. I know I’ve been avoiding them. Putting them off. Making excuses. But doing an inventory of 2013 shouldn’t be that hard. Things have been good. So why am I stalling? I don’t know yet. But through prayerful reflection, I will find out. I will write. And God will fill the nameless hunger, just like he always does. It will be kind of like when I discover that one last square of dark salted caramel chocolate hidden in the basket on top of our refrigerator. I will say, “Ahhhhh, that’s just what I was looking for!” And be satisfied.
p.s. If you’d like to do your own New Year reflecting by conducting a 4th step inventory, you may want to check out this website: http://addictionrecovery.lds.org/steps/4?lang=eng. I happened upon it in preparation for our group and have found it very helpful.
*Self-portrait by my very talented sister, Ami Novak. You can see more of her amazing work at http://twenty20.com/winter_can_wait