Happy December 31st! About 20 years ago, the representation of this day and its accouterments completely altered. For in 1993, I became a mother and my resources and my attention became distinctly different. Prior to that time, there was much planning prior to New Year’s Eve. I grew up in Chicago whereby my friends and I pooled our resources together to rent lavish suites in hotels in the downtown area, and enough food and drink to last into the wee hours of the morning. We hired a DJ, and were somehow able to get the word out about our event without the usage of social media. My hunt to find the perfect dress for the occasion began sometime around summer and our guest list was as long as as the lines outside of Garrett’s popcorn. It was always one of the premiere events of the season. However when I moved to North Carolina and gave birth in 1993, there was a coming to self perhaps required, but nonetheless transformative from year’s prior, and particularly on New Year’s Eve.
For the last few weeks, my Pastor, J. Jasper Wilkins, Jr., has focused his sermons on the prodigal son. He has probed, extrapolated, contextualized and deepened our understanding of the plight of the brother who chose to leave home, spend up his inheritance, involve himself in risky behavior, find himself sharing space with the swine, and finally coming to himself and returning home. His pilgrimage home was not initiated with the expectation to return to his original position, but instead an acceptance to assume the responsibility of being a servant in his father’s house. We don’t know if the prodigal son missed his former life, but obviously, he didn’t miss it enough to stay in the state of mind he found himself in.
Twenty years later, my NYE celebration is quite different. For the first ten, it typically involved pizza, party hats, snacks and kool-aid while watching the NYE special on Nickelodean, with my daughter’s fight to with her eyes to remain awake to see the new year. For the past ten, its altered between spending it with my line sister Stephanie, her husband Kelvin and friends, or in church for watch night service. Either way, both are drastically different from my original time spent on the infamous NYE celebration. I’ve been more concerned with connecting with people who fuel my purpose and who will remain once the last balloon is deflated, the last chip has been dipped and the last bottle has been consumed.
If the Lord allows, this time tomorrow we will be living in a new year. Many have declared plans of prosperity, recommitment, new adventures, renewing of dreams and the like. I would suggest that until each of us come to self, we will not attain the manifestation of our desires. Coming to self may involve many things, and only you know what applies to you. Financial freedom is difficult to occur without proper budgeting and sticking to the budget (guilty); returning to school is useless without a plan to study; a new relationship will not emerge while still tied to an old one; becoming a wife or husband is not likely while sleeping with someone else’s wife or husband; having expectations of God without acknowledging his expectations of you is ridiculous. In other words, each of us must “come to self” before we can expect God to “come to us.” What is your swine? What are you wallowing in that requires you to leave it behind for the greater that is to come? Can you be honest with yourself about it? Coming to self involves the identification of “it” and a mad dash to free yourself from it in order to get to the place that you say that you desire to be.
Every person who experiences the attainment of a dream has had a little bit of swine on them, but what makes them different is that they determined that their present state was limited and that their potential state was limitless. Although a change of environment was critical for the prodigal son, the same may not be possible for you. However, the change of mind is possible and imperative for each of us. Additionally, you may need to as my Pastor says, “check your row.” Who are you keeping company with? Will they propel or hinder your dreams? For that matter, first check yourself because you may be your own worst enemy. Once you “come to self” there is no need to share it with everyone. Determine God as your ultimate accountability, and ask him to direct you to someone tangibly on earth to serve as accountability in a supportive role. Establish a planning guide with identifiable tasks and dates to remain connected to your desires. Predetermine your own celebration to acknowledge your efforts and your life moment, just as the prodigal son’s father prepared a celebration upon the returning of his son. Just as the father welcomed his son home, our heavenly Father waits for each of us with opened arms.
Whether tonight you are cutting a step in downtown, da club, a hotel suite, at church or home, be sure to pause at some point to reflect upon this moment in time you’ve been granted, what needs to be left in 2013, and what it takes to finish 2014. C’mon! After all, yourself is waiting on you. What are you waiting for?