Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year’s Transformations instead of Resolutions

With trepidation I stepped on the scale this morning and sure enough, learned that I’ve gained 4 pounds in the past five days.  That’s what I get for feasting with 33 of my relatives over Christmas as we celebrated my uncle and aunt’s 50th wedding anniversary.
Like so many others, my New Year’s resolutions should include losing 10 lbs and exercising more in 2012.  Yet after spending 5 days with 3 generations ranging in age from 7 months to 79, I’m struck by how much more than New Year’s Resolutions, I need New Year’s Transformations.
One of my favorite current day sages, Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk, says that the typical trajectory of life is towards bitterness.  Our hurts, disappointments, betrayals, and disasters will embitter us unless we allow God to heal and transform our pain.  Even worse, Rohr says:
If we don’t transform our pain we will transmit it
There’s been pain.
  • Dislocation of my grandparents and parents’ generation from China to the West with the cultural struggle, poverty, racism, and confusion that followed.
  • The death of 2 uncles, one because of alcoholism, the other because of cancer
  • Hard marriages
  • Mental illness
  • Missteps and mistakes in parenting
My grandfather, once called the Virgin Prince back in China because of his regal manner and refusal to dabble in women, held incredible potential in his youth—a Harvard Ph.D., connections to the highest echelons of government—he was part of leading China in ways none of his progeny can ever imagine.
Yet over the 19 years we both lived, I mostly remember him sitting in his pajamas listening to NPR, reading the New York Times or the Chinese newspaper, and yelling at his grandchildren every time we made too much of a ruckus.
His dreams for greatness died when the Communists took over China, and that disappointment overshadowed the blessings of his remarkable spunky wife, 5 children, 15 grandchildren, and new life in America.
It’s funny to notice the choices my generation has made in light of our crazy families, all sorts of different choices about money, lifestyle, relationships, parenting, and faith.  Sometimes we’ve reacted to our parents.  Sometimes we’ve embodied the exact patterns of behavior we couldn’t stand even though we tried so hard to be different.
Yet the saving grace in my family, amidst all the pain and disappointment, has been an incredible sense of love.  And it’s pretty clear that those who’ve been most lavish with love seem also the most content, the least bitter, and the most filled with life, even if they weigh too much with bodies as soft as playdoh.
So this New Year’s I’m wondering if my best resolution could be to offer my pain for transformation each time I feel it.  Choosing to feel pain rather than stuffing it.  Choosing to mourn, to forgive, to come out of denial.  Choosing to talk to Jesus through it all, to reconcile if possible, to forgive yet again.  Choosing to risk.
Exercising and dieting through it all, of course.
What are your resolutions?   What might choosing transformation look like in your life?
This first appeared on What She Said

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