Day by day
Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day
– -from the musical “Godspell”
Although the above is the product of a 1971 off-Broadway musical written by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak as opposed to being a classic hymn one might hear during Sunday services, I actually do associate it with church services. The sentiment expressed in its lyrics definitely classifies it as being both relevant and worthy of hymn status by my line of thought; at its core, it is a very meaningful, purposeful and sincere prayer in my opinion. It is free of dogma and rhetoric, or legalistic language, yet it could apply to anyone regardless of what faith journey they could be on.
In addition, it reached #13 on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1972; how many other hymns can share that honor? I recall back when the song received copious amounts of mainstream radio airplay in the 1970s when I was fairly new to the world, yet I wonder if that would be the case today. Would it be accepted as it was then, or, unfortunately, hijacked by the religious right who would attempt to claim ownership of it and then be condemned by extremists on the left who saw it as religious propaganda? I would hope for the former rather than the latter.
In all seriousness, the reason I associate this particular song with church is because that was the first place I heard and fell in love with the song. It was not at a typical Sunday service, though. My third and fourth grade education took place in an Episcopal school, which in retrospect was one of my very first childhood experiences of the real Loving God Who I know today. There was a certain aspect of a type of laid back structure, although it was by no means a “legalistic” or “dogma based” Christian environment.
There was no discussion of hell, demons, or a harshly punitive and judgmental God of Law, and there was no demonization of the LGBT Community, in fact, the only time I recall the topic mentioned was when a bully was calling someone else a “queer” as an insult, and they were chastised for judging others and instructed not to do so again. There was no discussion of the “End Times,” and no instruction of a literal interpretation of Scripture as having all of the answers; we were all told to trust God and embrace the questions. Science was taught freely, and Evolution as a possible reality. The emphasis was on the Gospels, and especially on an attempt to discern the meaning of what Christ Taught and how we could use it to live a better life today and improve the lives of those around us as well.
Had my parents not in a moment of fear taken me out of that school and placed me in more conservative Christian surroundings as part of their listening to fundamentalist influence, I cannot help but wonder if I would have gone through so much angst involving God, yet I am where I am and have been on the journey I have been and continue on for a reason, so I do not question these matters.
I am not saying that there was no structure in this predominantly liberal Christian Academy at all. We all had to wear uniforms. We had Communion (complete with what tasted like actual wine in retrospect, although I know it was very likely just potent grape juice) every Wednesday, and Chapel every day. It was in Chapel on two days of the week that we were allowed to put away the traditional Episcopalian Hymnal, and a “Song Book” bound in a simple manila folder was passed out. Two of the Anglican Sisters would come up to the front of the Chapel with their acoustic guitars and would lead us in Contemporary songs: “I Can See Clearly Now” was a favorite, as was “Pass It On” and these two still remain among my favorite “Christian” songs. But “Day By Day” was one that seemed to always be included in the mix as well, and although all three have stuck with me throughout the years, even during times when I was not acknowledging God or fearing and ugly picture I had allowed others to paint for me of God, and it enters my head from time to time.
While most times now the song arises to the surface of my consciousness it is due to my reflecting on those “three things” (seeing God more clearly in everyday life, being fully aware of God’s Presence and Love and appreciation of that, and striving to be as Loving and compassionate and observant of the Great Commandment to Love One Another as I am able) I also associate it with another aspect of my spirituality. As someone who is a recovered abuser of alcohol, I can identify with the concept of taking life “Day by Day.” Although I never formally attended any twelve step program, I find that I adhere to and practice many of the core principals taught within them. One which has stuck with me throughout the years I have been alcohol and drug free is the idea of taking one day at a time. The idea of taking things one day at a time, trusting God to get me through it and biting the bullet and toughing it out rather than reaching for a drink just for that one day has, after all, proven to be beneficial for me, my sobriety and overall wellness for over 15 years now. I am a firm believer in that old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
And the concept of taking things day by day, one day at a time surfaced yet again this past week as we prepare to part ways with the year coming to a close and embark on the journey into the fresh, new one with confidence, courage and hope-one which is rife with promise and new possibilities, in our collective consciousness. Just as there are Christmas traditions, we have the annual New Year traditions and allow the moment when the clock turns from 11:59 p.m. on December 31 to 12:00 a.m. on January 1 to be symbolic of all of the goals, hopes and dreams we possess for ourselves and our lives to have an opportunity to suddenly flourish, as if the turning of the year were a magical one-shot window and sacred hour which we can only embrace and take full advantage of once per 365 days.
That magical window when the clock strikes 12 on December 31, which we have elected as a society as the moment when we carry through on our individual resolves, be they elimination of negative habits or the creation of new ones, has over time evolved into as much of a tradition as the Christmas tree, the Nativity set, the eggnog and sugar cookies, the family gatherings, and a veritable orgy of consumerism in the month of December for so many. It has become the dawn of a new beginning, the chance to shed old skin and break free of old chains, the opportunity for a fresh new start, outlook and way of thinking. But while I acknowledge and respect that, and the symbolic value of the New Year being a “turning point,” I have just never been a fan of the “New Year’s Resolution” meme. This is the very reason why every December 31 I have the same exact New Year’s Resolution: I resolve to not make any New Year’s Resolutions.
It isn’t that I hold any judgments about those who do decide to have resolutions, for I do not. Some are very successful: many do adhere to a new fitness regimen, or other behaviors intended to improve one’s health, or adhere to a new routine meant to improve quality of life, and many are successful at abstaining from actions which may have proven to be detrimental to their lives in the past. While it is true that some are staging themselves for disappointment (especially if they are not thoroughly committed to what they are resolving to do and only doing so because they feel they should make a resolution at the first of the year to enact something which has been procrastinated) many do seize the turning of the year as an opportunity to accomplish a task they have been unmotivated, unwilling or apprehensive about taking on, and God Bless them, I wish them all of the success in their endeavors.
And it isn’t that I lack Holiday Spirit. It is merely that I elect not to limit opportunity for personal growth and new beginnings to one specific day and time, just as I elect to never put limits on God’s Love, God’s Reach, or God’s Grace. It is very similar to the way that I do not merely reserve the act of being compassionate, kind, gentle and giving to the Christmas Holidays but strive to maintain that spirit year round. I would much rather embrace every moment as an opportunity.
I think that I feel this way for a multitude of reasons. One is that the way I have experienced God, and the life I have been blessed with has never been on any type of set timetable or schedule. Just as I no longer attempt to understand God in set black and white terms, and no longer have a burning need to know all of the answers at once, I have found it to be infinitely more fulfilling not to postpone until a certain specific day or time the things I know I need to do, actions which will be beneficial towards my developing a deeper awareness of God, towards being stronger in my faith, towards using the gifts God has blessed me with to improve and enhance the lives of those around me. While I do like to plan for each day to the best of my abilities and capabilities, and enjoy that type of structure, we really never do know for certain what each new tomorrow will bring. This is difficult for me at times to actualize, but I refer back to a key teaching of Jesus about living in the moment:
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” -Matthew 6:34
(I often substitute the word “concerns” for worries, and “focus” for trouble, but that is a personal preference). I find it interesting that this teaching is in such close proximity within the Gospel of Matthew to so many other profound, brilliant, wise (and often in our lives, quite challenging) teachings in Matthew 7: not judging; asking, seeking and knocking; the Golden Rule, the Narrow Gate, and the parable of knowing a Tree by its fruits. All very critical cornerstones, to me at least, of all of the Wisdom God gave us through Jesus.
I have always spent time speculating which of Christ’s Teachings seem to present the greatest challenge to follow consistently, even when to follow them is to our greatest benefit, and the admonition that we not worry seems to be among the most challenging. For so much of my life, I had a great struggle of living in the now, as I feel so many of us do.
After all, for anyone who has ever been ensnared in any brand or flavor of legalistic fundamentalist Christian thought can attest, so much of it is firmly anchored and dependent upon fear of the unknown and what lies ahead: Is there really an eternal hell of punishment or an eternal heaven following the life we are living, life as we know it? and When is the Second Coming, and do I have the “correct” belief to be saved? and Which set of beliefs, which understanding of the Bible is the “correct” one to place me in God’s favor? are all queries posed to terrify individuals into relying upon those who purport their version of the truth as the only “Truth” and create a dependence upon it. It is the continued iteration of these fears and uncertainties which causes so many to trade rational thought, embracing the idea of a God who is so much more than human, and personal well-being and self-esteem for the belief in the security that they now possess a “get out of hell free” card in an uncertain future.
And even if those types of beliefs did not exist, there is still a great deal of fear and uncertainty which all of us can experience from time to time about tomorrow: what will tomorrow bring? What will our lives be like, what will our surroundings be? What joys or challenges can we expect to face, be it in the coming 24 hours, days, weeks and months, or even the coming year? While we can rely on what intuition we may possess, and certainly hope and plan for the best, and put all of the faith we have it in the best, we never truly know. The only thing I can say for certain from experience is that whatever tomorrow brings, faith in God will carry us through it.
At one point in my life, I would constantly think ahead, even to the point of not allowing myself to fully reside in, enjoy, savor and cherish the moment at hand. While there is nothing wrong with planning, I have learned over time that there is a balance. It is possible to hope and plan for tomorrow, yet remain fully present in the moment God Has us in right now.
I have to return to what I stated earlier about taking things day by day, and relate another familiar song which has come to me when I have attempted to focus on living and being fully present in the moment:
“One day at a time, sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you
Give me the strength to do everything that I have to do
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Help me today
Show me the way
One day at a time.”
– -(Marijohn Wilkins / Kris Kristofferson)
This sentiment has stayed with me through all of the challenges-call them resolves, if you will- that I have made over the years. Keep in mind, these were not resolutions made on January 1, but just when I felt moved to act on things I knew I needed to do, in order to have a deeper connection with God, in order to improve my own life, and in order to be better served to help others around me. These were not easy tasks; while all of them were things I deeply wanted to do, they were not bereft of fear, apprehension and anxiety.
The only way I could get through them was taking things one day at a time.
When I was suffering medical problems due to years of abusing alcohol, I knew that I had to just stop immediately no matter how difficult a process I feared that would be. I did not want to wait for any time or occasion, nor did I attempt as I had in the past unsuccessfully to taper off gradually or have one last hurrah prior to stopping. I simply poured it all out and ceased drinking. At that time, I just asked sincerely of God to help me to get through that one day without giving in to the urge to continue on the path of self-destruction I had been on up until that point. I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring and I elected not to even take that into consideration: my goal was for that one day. It was a fresh new start, a brand new day, and I had the opportunity to make the best of it. That was not an easy day to get through, but it did inspire me to try again the next day when I was able to get through it, and then another, and another.
When I knew that the source of the aimless and self-destructive path I had been on was due to some old and fearful ideations of God I had allowed others to plant in my head and psyche in the midst of a time when I had been very emotionally vulnerable, afraid and uncertain, I knew it was time for a fresh start and a new beginning in the way I thought about God, and what it really meant to be a Christian, a follower of Christ. I knew I had to let go of all of the negative ideas about God and restructure my faith from square one, revisiting the God I had once known when I had been younger, a God of Love and not legalism, dogma, and fundamentalism.
Cleaning out those old ideas and beginning anew was not an easy task and a shade frightening, yet it was critical to my spiritual well-being. While the actual process of rebuilding my faith on a new foundation was gradual and took time – one day at a time – the resolve to commit to it was something I had to just take action on and then work through the process of my salvation with fear and trembling. I began with just one day, saying that for just that day I was going to completely let go of old and damaging ideas about God. Although I know that I and no one is perfect, for one day I adamantly refused to view myself as a flawed, wretched and unworthy “sinner” mired and ensnared in a false sense of guilt, shame and fear. For that day, I vowed that I would at least entertain the possibility that God was not a harsh and demanding judge and jury watching my every more and eagerly waiting me to trip up on something, but only as a Loving Spirit that Guides and Surrounds me with every step I take. And when that day had ended, and I made it through, I began yet another. And each day carried with it the chance for taking the core of what Jesus taught and applying it to everyday life, and I always learned – and to this day still learn – something new every day when I read and reflect on what He teaches in the Gospels.
When I knew that the time had come to fully acknowledge and accept myself as a bisexual man, and cease pretending to be who I thought others expected me to be or who others told me they thought God wanted me to be rather than who God Created me to be, I vividly recall the moment when I said out loud to myself for the first time, “I am bisexual, and this is how God Created me to be; there is nothing unnatural about my desires or for me to be ashamed of.” There was no special occasion, and this was something I had known about myself all of my life, even though at one time I had attempted to repress or deny it. I knew that the process of reconciling my spirituality and sexuality would take time, and would be a day by day endeavor. But I also knew that I had already waited far too long to do so, and I had to begin. I started off that day promising myself that for one day, I was not going to entertain any feelings of false guilt or shame about my sexuality or natural desires, for there is nothing incorrect about mine or anyone else’s; it is merely how we elect to use our gift of sexuality. I came to embrace my sexuality and sexual orientation as natural and God Given and realize that it was a gift to be cherished and respected and not in any way unnatural even if it differs from the mainstream.
As the process went on, and I recognized that for me that being bisexual meant the need for a relationship with both a woman and with a man, and that not everyone might understand that, I knew I could not for a moment feign or attempt or pretend to be anyone other than who I knew I was, and I had to be open and honest about this. I simply asked for faith and strength one day at a time. I constantly focused on seeking a way to live the full truth of who I am in a way which is loving and respectful of all others, and was blessed with a committed, honest and caring relationship with a bisexual woman and another bisexual man. My girlfriend and I choose not to conceal or hide the fact that we are bisexual and have honest , committed and caring relationships with our same gender partners as well as our relationship with each other, and although others do not always understand, yet we take things one day at a time. With each day we are able to be open with our identity and our faith, and the knowledge that we despite our differences are a part of God’s Plan and Creation, there is always an opportunity that we can reach out to others and create a better sense of understanding and acceptance, and focus on what we have in common with others rather than our differences. In simply being who we are and at peace with it, we can show others that despite the differences, we are a real and valid part of the world God Created.
And there have been many other instances in life where the opportunity presented itself to undertake some new endeavor which I knew could pose to be challenging where at one time I would have spent numerous hours wondering how to best go about it and overwrought myself with concern about the process to the point where I was investing more time in careful planning than anything else rather than doing. There were so many things I wanted to do to strive to better serve as a child of God and invest time and energy in putting the good thoughts I had into action, thoughts of better embodying the Spirit of God and the teachings of Jesus in the world. How can I best express God’s Love to all of those who I encounter today? How can I strive to always practice the type of forgiveness, compassion and charity that I feel Jesus would encourage me to show to others? How could I make a difference in someone’s life today? How could I better strengthen myself against allowing any old and archaic fears which would surface now and then and the day to day anxieties which can accompany this wild and crazy journey we know as life from preventing me from remaining focused, balanced and centered in a place of love and place the source and focus of my actions all from a place of compassion and caring, and be able to spend time attending to the needs of others when at times it seemed as if there were scarcely enough time to take care of myself in order to enable myself to be better present for others? Some days, that can seem like an impossible task to even the most spiritually minded people.
Yet whenever I am faced with any situation which seems impossible, I refer back to what has always proven to be effective, and that is to step back, take a deep breath and go within and ask of myself and inquire of God, “What can I do at this moment, this day towards this goal, this desire? What action or steps can I take right this very minute to this end, and during the gift of the new day which has been presented to me? If there is any imagined fear within myself that I need to disregard in order to take a step forward and act rather than merely think about doing something good, how do I let go of that fear and overcome it so that I can take the necessary actions I need to take to facilitate making things happen?”
Sometimes, the answer may be to merely be still, be calm and wait and carefully consider what the best method to achieve what I am attempting to do would be before proceeding. At others, it could be to take things in small steps. And yet others, it could be to take a bold step with courage I had not initially planned on taking. But even when I might postpone taking action on something I feel compelled to act on, I attempt to make a conscious effort to focus on that spark of intention and seek to be aware and cognizant of opportunity which might arise to do so. And then, take whatever steps I can each and every day towards the goal I have in mind, whether it be a goal for personal growth and betterment, or a goal to play my past in improving the lives of others, with the personal growth, well-being and fulfillment of those around me in mind.
As LGBT Christians, and LGBT individuals in general, despite the considerable progress we have accomplished and great strides we have made towards a greater sense of societal equality, acceptance, and understanding, there is still a long way to go, whether we all recognize that fact or not. While I see and hear so many stories of hope among us, I still am witness to so much pain. There is still so much misunderstanding, fear and ignorance that still needs to be overcome. There are still so many opportunities which exist for breaking down the walls of fear and judgment. There are still so many among us suffering silently who are terrified of the thought of coming out and being honest with themselves about who God Made them to be, let alone their friends, peers and loved ones. And while I cannot know or purport to know everything that God Wants, I feel absolutely certain that God never has or never would want any of us to suffer and feel that type of pain, rejection and repression.
Yet, regularly I see small indications that give me great hope. I see the LGBT Community more and more frequently responding to judgment and criticism not with the same measure of vitriol, judgment and “fighting fire with fire” that they receive but instead with love, non-judgment, and a desire to create understanding rather than conflict. I have been seeing more and more LGBT individuals being equally as bold and unashamed about their faith in God, and identity as a follower of Christ as we are our sexual orientation, and speaking up in favor of their being included among the greater community of faith rather than bemoaning how often we are excluded.
Still, there is so much which needs to transpire towards a full sense of equality. I long for the day when an individual’s sexual orientation and sexuality is precisely what it should be, a non-issue. I look forward to a time when no one even so much as raises an eyebrow of apprehension when an LGBT individual calmly and confidently states the truth that they too are a follower of Christ, or a Christian states that they are a happy, unashamed and well-adjusted LGBT individual. I look forward to a time when there is less division within our own community and there is a greater sense of full inclusion for the “B” and “T” in “LGBT” than exists at the present time. I look forward to a time when same gender marriages are treated with equal value and respect to “traditional” marriage between a man and a woman without question. I look forward to a day when politics and elections truly do focus on real values, rather than allowing prejudice, demonization and exclusion of the LGBT Community to masquerade as “values” and playing into the worst fears and ignorance of human nature. And I will not even begin to address the hope I have that one day there will be greater understanding and acceptance of the unique and different needs of the bisexual individual in both society and in communities of faith, a level of acceptance where we can be accepted just as we are rather than feeling pressured to “pick a side and get off the fence,” which unfortunately still happens.
Achieving this level of equality and setting the balance right, where all of us are acknowledged for what we truly are-equally valued and precious children and Creations of the Loving God – is still a massive undertaking and presents a challenging road ahead. But the only way to reach the destination is to begin that journey, one step at a time, and one day at a time.
This will take time; it is highly unlikely to happen overnight. And although it all has to originate at an individual level, it certainly cannot be the work of one person. It will require everyone working together.
Ask yourself, what is it that I might be able to accomplish today, just today, this day which God has Made, with this end result in mind? I can think of a few things each of us could do which can lead towards this goal:
We can go forth each day and allow our actions rather than words to define our faith and sense of belonging as a part of the Christian faith. Although I feel that all of us who define ourselves as LGBT and Christian should be open and honest about the fact that we too are children of God, it is far better to show than tell. Respond to hatred and ignorance with love and respect rather than letting our primal instinct for self-preservation cause us to return fear with more of the same. Continue to practice and embody the teachings of Jesus to express our gratitude to God by loving our neighbor as ourselves and treating them with the same measure of love and compassion with which we ourselves would desire to be treated, even when they do not display us the same courtesy. Whenever possible, seek opportunities to be giving of ourselves to others in need however we are able. If another has differing religious or spiritual views, rather than judge them, understand that there are different views and understandings of God and what God Is, and learn to find our common ground rather than be combative and defensive when we have been presented with alternative ideas. We can ask ourselves when presented with conflict, differing viewpoints, or judgment, “How can I work towards creating a climate of understanding and acceptance rather than contributing to more conflict and tension?”
I realize that this next point may come across as a bit controversial, but we could cease attempting to assimilate to conventions in order to be “normal” – or “fit in” to a heterosexual mold and alternatively boldly pray for the courage to simply be who we truly are. So many times I see parts of the LGBT Community wanting to be ashamed of those who do not fit a specific “mold” of conformity – be it those who are not “straight-acting,” those who are bisexual and transgendered, those into consensual BDSM, those of us who like myself have committed relationships with more than one partner. Those on the “fringe” are often perceived as a threat to acceptance as a whole, yet I feel this does not have to be the case. Instead, I feel that we should celebrate and encourage both diversity as well as encouraging all of us, whoever we are, to strive to live the truth of who it is God Made us to be in a fashion which is loving and respectful of all others. If there is any behavior within our Community that I feel should be discouraged, I feel that the only one which should be is succumbing to fear and being ashamed of who it is that we truly are. I sincerely feel and have always felt that any type of irresponsible, self-destructive and harmful behavior, as well as behavior which could be hurtful of another is born of nothing other than fear.
We can continue to be honest about who we are. All of us who feel comfortable saying farewell to the closet should not only take that bold step, but be there as support, encouragement and hope for others to do the same. There have been times in my life as a bisexual where I could have done as many bisexually identified people do and conceal it. There are times when my girlfriend and I are not with our same gender partners when we would appear, to some, to be a heterosexual couple, yet we elect to be open about our bisexuality and relationships with our partners. It is not to “flaunt” our sexuality or having more than one partner or anything else, it is more to simply focusing on fully being who we are in the hope that we are allowing others to see that we exist and that it is possible for others like us to be who they are in a way which is honest, loving and respectful of all others. For the more people who can see our faith and knowledge that there is some place for us just as we are in God’s Plan, the more hope it could inspire in them.
And all of us who are LGBT can take advantage of feeling joy and peace about who we are and being honest about that with others in order to help them achieve a greater sense of inspiration and hope. Every time someone who is frightened or afraid and is just arriving at the realization and understanding that they are LGBT can be witness to a happy and joyful LGBT individual-be it a well-adjusted single gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered person, a happy and committed loving same gender couple, or someone in a more non-traditional type of relationship – it can encourage them to come one step closer to realizing that there is nothing to fear, that there is no reason to feel shame, and that they too are a valued child of the Loving God.
Breaking down the walls of oppression and fear which so many have been imprisoned by for so long can also take place one day at a time. Each day, we may have a new opportunity should we be witness to anti-LGBT “bullying” to speak out and comment on the pain and negativity that can give rise to. We might hear an anti-LGBT comment from someone using the unfortunately used phrase, “that is so gay” to refer to something negative, and point out that there is nothing negative about being LGBT. Or, we might hear someone speaking out against same gender marriage equality or stating that being LGBT and Christian are incongruent, and we have an opportunity to dispel that fear with imparting knowledge and understanding and elect to do so. So many times I have found that those who fervently condemn same gender relationships or marriages or who criticize LGBT acceptance are only doing so because they were told to by another rather than operating on their actual, true feelings; they had just never honestly discussed the issue with someone with a different, or first-hand perspective.
All of these things may seem like little things but the point I am attempting to express is that the little things add up over time. I like to consider it as being akin to being trapped or imprisoned in a room with solid walls, no windows and no doors where it might seem as if there is no escape, yet imagining that we have a small spoon or shovel where we can dig away a little bit at a time until the wall is completely penetrated and broken through and light begins to shine in. Eventually, as light shines in, we become more inspired and encouraged, and break through more efficiently until we are all the way through.
If we as LGBT individuals could take that approach, and see our daily actions-the little things we can do or say on a day by day basis that can truly make a difference-as tiny efforts to undermine the walls of oppression and fear which have built up over time, then what seems to be an impossible task, an insurmountable effort, a seemingly unattainable goal could suddenly become more tangible and real. I feel we could see the walls of fear which have for so long prevented the type of equality, sense of belonging as we are, and justice from being a reality gradually weaken and crumble-a little day by day, one day at a time. It is definitely food for thought not only as a new year begins, but as each new day begins.
While others elect to celebrate the transformation of the old year into the new, I will continue to view every day as a fresh and clean start, a new beginning, a blank canvas from God to work with. I hope and pray to continue to view each and every new day as a new gift, hence why we refer to it as the present (a tired old cliché, I know, but one that I find continually bears repeating). I will strive to keep my focus on that day, not worrying about tomorrow or mourning the past, but making the very best of that day.
I know I am unconventional in my thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions and not participating in tradition beyond resolving not to have resolutions, but that fits my character and quirkiness as I am unconventional about just about everything. However, there is a great benefit to not limiting the decision to try something new, to undertake a goal I know will be good for my own personal growth and that of those around me, to start over from square one to January 1. Taking that approach to every day provides 365 glorious opportunities to shine, for a fresh new start, a new beginning, a fresh new outlook and perspective. It keeps me alive and evolving, ever aware to the possibilities God Brings into my life and clarity about my constant connection with God (which exists even at the times when fear can create the illusion that one does not exist), and always motivated to discern how I can put the teachings of Christ into action each and every day to assist in making Creation an even better place. No day is a waste, every day then carries some type of purpose and meaning and I find that I value it as such; each and every day becomes as special as those which have taken precedence on our calendars merely because we have marked or designated them as such special times of observation, rather than “just another day.”
I am the last one to tell anyone anywhere how to do and what to do it, but for those who celebrate the coming of the New Year, I offer this suggestion, take it or leave it, whichever feels right with you and your personal relationship with God or your beliefs. Wherever the turning of the New Year finds you this year, whether you have any set decisions to enact or resolutions to be made, strive to take that spark which so many seem to be motivated by every January 1 at 12 a.m. and carry it with you with the advent of each and every new day God Blesses you with! Each day of every year can be embraced as an opportunity for personal growth, new beginnings and a fresh new start.
Perhaps you are among those who long to be free of habits or old ways of thinking which no longer serve a purpose or are detrimental to your personal sense of wholeness. Perhaps you are among those snared in negative ways of thinking about God and Christianity which only serve to distance you from experiencing the Glory of God’s Unconditional Love. Perhaps you are one who is seeking to be able to boldly and confidently claim your rightful Blessing as a valued and cherished LGBT child of God but have for some time not allowed yourself to open up and receive such out of fear, and seek to approach things from a new and fresh outlook where God Loves you just as you are and seeks to help you have the sense of peace and wholeness you have always longed for. Or perhaps you are seeking to use the gifts God Has Given you to encourage and inspire others, and want to take the first bold step in discerning how to do so.
Whatever hopes, dreams and goals you may have, rather than limiting the time when you take action to begin to bring those into reality to once per year, be awake, alive and aware for the opportunity to do so each and every day. Rather than have concern for what happened yesterday, be willing to forgive yourself and others for any wrongs, learn from experience and move on. Rather than having concern for tomorrow, remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:34 and place your focus on today. And fully allow yourself to be present each and every day, and cherish, enjoy, savor and make the absolute best of it. Focus on that one day, and asking yourself, “Am I making the best of the today God Blessed me with?”
At the end of the day, if you should feel that you have stumbled in your efforts, and not accomplished what you had hoped, rather than giving up or accepting defeat, or believing what you had hoped to do, be it achievement of a personal goal or outlook or merely keeping a commitment to being as loving or giving as you are capable of, begin the next day fresh and new with a new resolve. You will find that God is still right there with you, carrying you and guiding you if you go within and seek God, or learn to find God in the everyday and the most unexpected places. If you find that you still have not accomplished what you are attempting to accomplish for several days, then keep the faith and keep going, letting each new day be a wonderful opportunity for success. Never give up.
If you adopt the idea that each and every day carries with it the possibility for a fresh start and a new beginning rather than postponing the onset of new and wonderful things to a specific date or time, you will likely find over time as I have that you begin each one with a positive outlook. You can plan for a great tomorrow, yet remain fully present in the moment, aware of God’s Presence in your life and purpose for you. And with goals which could have initially seemed impossible and overwhelming, you can take things day by day and with each passing day, see the mountains erode down to molehills, and what seemed distant being within your reach.
I cannot state with absolutely certainty that this approach will work for anyone, but it has certainly proven to be a spiritually enriching outlook for me. If you entertain the possibility, you too very well could begin to view each new day as a cherished and valued gift of God’s Never-Ending Grace, and seize the opportunity to begin every day anew with a refreshed outlook, a new sense of profound hope, and embracing a joyous new beginning – one day at a time.
John Campbell is a native of Alabama.