Betty Schaaf mug

Roman Betty Schaaf is a volunteer, a writer, a sojourner and a self-described wellness addict.

This New Year promises to be a good one, better than the year before. So often we forget that each New Year doesn’t promise us anything better or different than the year before. Time is ageless, spotless, selfless, lapse-less, season-less and never-ending. Yet we fear time and “it” becomes the focus of our conversations throughout the New Year and every year after that. Here we are in the middle of the first month of our new year and we are already talking about how fast “it” has gone. Almost gone are the conversations which we have already had with ourselves about our new year’s resolutions and joining a gym. We felt convicted to embrace that fashionably new diet starting Jan. 1 and exercise more ... have we done that? This season of convictions, commitments and the passing of time only serve to allow more guilt to creep into the vulnerable crevasses in our heart and produce a toxic shame that does nothing to improve our new year. I would like to suggest a new approach to our 2019!

Let us look upon time as a gift, one we can unwrap all year long. Let us ponder upon time as being a custom and unique-only-to-you gift which is offered to everyone in different amounts predetermined before your birth. This gift that has been unwrapped for us does not include any forms of fear. That is wonderful news all by itself. Ruth Bell Graham once said that “things of true quality need not fear the years. [Time] only improves them.” Well, that casts a different light on the whole subject, does it not? This is the mantra that I will be taking with me into the new year. If we are all improving with time, doesn’t that thought tickle your senses and make you smile? It does me. Now when I say that I am like a bottle of fine wine and only get better with age, I can say it in all sincerity and truth! Another tangible example is when my husband finishes restoring his 1955 Bel Air hardtop Chevrolet, which has increased in value over 2,000 percent in over 60 years, that I, too, will do the same as that hunk of metal. I am almost 2,000 percent more valuable than I was when I was born — now that’s a thought. I can only be grateful for being able to truly live rather than settle for just being alive for the passing of all that time.

As this momentary and elusive process continues to fly right past us, we make promises to ourselves to spend more time with God, our children, our hobbies, our health and less time on our jobs. We make these commitments only to disappoint ourselves later as we realize that most of our good intentions and convictions never made it to first base. Then we beat ourselves up and tell ourselves not to make those resolutions again next year. You would think that the passing of time every year would teach us valuable lessons, but as a whole the human race forgets so easily and we go ahead and make the same promises again next year. It is something like the practice of Lent — we promise to give something up, usually a food because that is what most of us suffer from indulging with too much. This spiritual practice of giving something up is supposed to be a sacrifice, but most often it is not. The supposed sacrifice of certain foods then becomes just another thing we have to remember and keep up with. Then in this sacrificial process, we forget why we were giving it up in the first place. In this case, not only do we punish ourselves for forgetting our promises to God and others, we then assume that God is angry with us for not following through. Then we feel even worse and ditch the whole idea of promising to do better for the rest of the year. So we are right back where we started last year at the same time. Isn’t this the definition of insanity, doing and thinking the same way year after year while expecting different outcomes?

So let us change and improve how we view ourselves and our world in this upcoming year in hopes of making it fearless, resolution-less, and shameless. Reduce or eliminate the promises we make to ourselves that are out of reach or won’t bring some success. Remember that each of us is made of extraordinary quality that can’t ever be replicated and that the passing of time only improves who we are. So, in focusing on eliminating the negative thoughts we heap upon ourselves, why don’t we unwrap the gift of time and embrace what we have and how much time were given? Use it wisely instead of belaboring how fleeting it is, trying to figure out where it went, and use that time instead to become the best-version-of-ourselves. I was once told that today we will be the youngest we will ever be and the oldest at the same time. Well then, we better get going and make these short moments count for something, other than ruminating on the loss of time and our feelings of regret over broken pledges in this New Year of 2019.

Roman Betty Schaaf is a volunteer, a writer, a sojourner and a self-described wellness addict.