One thing I love about January is that everything feels new.  New year, new clothes, new haircut, new classes, new start.  Everything feels fresh and the good, the bad, and the ugly from the year before is behind.  Everyone seems to get a clean slate and begins to form all of these ambitions and resolutions of how they’d like to change in the upcoming year.

When the New Year begins it’s a great opportunity to start the year right.  For some people it’s changing their routines or diets or style to reflect this “newness” inside of them.  Starting off right is important.

But this year didn’t start out the way I thought it would or the way I hoped.  This year started off with a too-long road trip that ended with me wrecking my car.  This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.  It’s probably because I was not in Lancaster County and didn’t have my “good luck” serving of Pork and Sauerkraut.  

Yep…that’s got to be it.

Over and over again I have replayed the sequence of events and come up with a million-and-one other things I should’ve done differently.  A million-and-one things I wish were different.  And each day I am reminded of this mistake with making phone calls to the insurance company or asking for rides to work and school…and in a matter of days I will know whether or not I get to begin the exciting adventure of car shopping.  

New wasn’t supposed to begin this way.

This year, for my one-year anniversary, I was given a beautiful canvas and printed on it was a picture that Dillon took while he was in India.

Written on the canvas is this:

“There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.”

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When I first got this canvas I, of course, thought about India and how often I question the meaning or purpose in that experience, especially when it is all to easy to get discouraged about all that is still to be done.  When I got this gift I thought, “Wow Dietrich, how perfect does that relate to my India.”  However, last night as I was lying in bed, the quote kept coming to mind in a broader sense of my everyday life.  

Each day there is meaning and purpose and value contained in the mundane tasks and routine schedules.  In the midst of road trips, sickness, car accidents, and more road trips, there is a reason, even if it is unknown to me.

The tricky part is becoming content with not always knowing.  It’s difficult to embark on a journey and not know completely how or where it will end.  

Sometimes I feel like life is one of those flume rides, you know, the ones at amusement parks that wind around all pleasantly until all of a sudden it comes to the top of a hill where the only place to go is down.  As you approach the drop you’re given two choices:

  1. Throw your hands in the air and scream with sheer excitement (or terror)
  2. Grab onto the handle bar and put your head between your knees in hopes that you don’t throw up

Maybe sometimes the meaning in the journey is figuring out how we approach the drops and obstacles in life.  So maybe the “new year” didn’t match up to the expectations I had for it, but thankfully I have a gracious family and serve a God of redemption who can bring meaning out of the most unfortunate circumstances. 

“For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

- Isaiah 43:19

Ashley Sider