By Jennifer Grant
January gets its name from Janus, the god of beginnings and endings, omens and auspicious occasions. The ancient Romans depicted Janus with two faces. With one, he saw the past; the other looked into the future. Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, a temple was consecrated to Janus, and his image was imprinted on Roman coins. Ancients made him offerings of honey at the start of the year in hopes that the year ahead would be sweet.
I hate to confess it - both as a person living thousands of years after his coins went out of circulation and especially as a believer in Jesus- but my own thinking has often been just as magical as a Janus-worshipper.
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Although I've never offered honey to mythical gods, how many times have I worked to craft the right resolutions, to make a purge of unhealthy habits, and to gather up the right kind of momentum (emotional, relational, spiritual) for the new year in hopes that it will be a good one for me?
Scripture doesn't concern itself about how satisfied I'll feel this year, whether my Klout score or number of "followers" is going up, or if I feel appreciated or understood by those I love or wish to impress. Instead, again and again, it's about detachment from self. We're supposed to count others more significant than ourselves (Phil. 2:3). We're not to insist on our own way or be resentful (I Cor. 13:5). We're supposed to "decrease" (John 3:30).
Most of all, we are invited - urged, actually - to love.
It's hard to detach, let go, and love when we're addicted to the stories we tell ourselves about our lives. We feel owed something. We want to be "seen." We want to feel fully loved.
Have you read our "Resting Place" article from our latest issue Forgiveness?
But we're disappointed, always, because - to quote country singer Johnny Lee - we're "lookin' for love in all the wrong places." Author Richard Rohr has said that when we don't understand God's unconditional love, we go to each other "begging and demanding rewards that only God can give."
Why, we wonder, are some of the most joyful people on the planet those who have experienced great scarcity or loss? Maybe it's because they are not obsessed with the self. You'll never find this sort of person offering honey to the gods in return for happiness. Maybe, in their place of exhaustion, silence, or detachment, they have come to rest, gratefully, in God's abiding love.
May we all come to do the same.
Jennifer Grant is the grateful mother of four, author of Love You More, MOMumental, Disquiet Time (forthcoming, 2014), and 12: A Daybook (forthcoming) and is online at jennifergrant.com.