Not-so-Standard New Year Post

Resolutions have been written.

Vision boards are a thing & I didn’t even know until today.

The ball has dropped.

Many of us have chosen single words that we will use to define our year.

This year on December 31st, my husband and I faked a countdown on Netflix for the kids and barely saw the ball drop before we were both out like 2017, snuggled together, and dreaming dreams.

This morning, I taught my first cycle class since I broke a bone in my foot, two-months and six days ago. It was a two-hour special New Year class that I taught beside an amazing friend, and together we were surrounded by family. We whooped together, laughed together, and sweat together. At the Suffolk Family YMCA, in a packed class with thirty-one bikes and thirty-one people, there is not one person I couldn’t count on to have my back and not one person who I wouldn’t show up for. They are my people, and I am their people. It does not matter to us what color we are, or what kind of gym clothes we wear. We could care less if someone is straight or LGBT+ or trying to figure it all out. We do not bother with cliques or drama. We sweat. We love. It’s just what we do. 

Here’s a great example of how “family” we actually are:

I had just walked into a cycle class just like today, but a little more than a year ago now. I was setting up the room, my bike, and the speakers and I was talking to a friend about a local family who had found themselves in a homeless situation. They were about to be put on the curb of the daily pay hotel where they had been staying – a single mom, two fifteen year old twins, and a three year old. (Side note: That family changed MY life more than i changed theirs, and they don’t even realize the impact they have had on me. We’re still friends and connected by the way, one day they’ll know.)

Back to the cycle room, someone who I hardly knew overheard our conversation about helping the family. She waited until after class ended, walked up front quietly and slipped me $100 bill to pay for 2 nights to keep the family in the hotel. In stark contrast, I had called one church and one organization of multiple churches to help. One church told me of benevolence forms requiring bill information and church membership requirements. The conglomerate of churches put the family on a waiting list. Neither did what Jesus would have done. Neither found a solution. Like the Good Samaritan who bandaged the bleeding wounds of the traveler, she saved the day when the priest and the religious proper folk turned away (Luke 10:30-35.) I have many friends who helped with that situation and many more like it since then. Like I said, this family changed my life and so did the generosity, purity, and beauty of my friends.

I’m not telling you this to say that church is bad; it’s not. Quite the contrary, I believe every person should be a part of a group of people who believe in and love Jesus. Every person should be a part of a group of people that build each other up. Also, to be clear: personal goals rock, resolutions can be valuable, and vision boards are really awesome; yet, I have experienced the success of new goals and even more so the kind of defeat that had me feeling like I a failure as a human: as a spouse, especially as a mom, daughter, and doubting the calling I knew in my heart that was straight from God. I’ve surrounded myself with people in suits and those in skinny jeans that preach “love others” and don’t show up when it matters. And, I’ve surrounded myself with people who do good without even trying. There are also people who are just people who give more of themselves than you’d ever expect. These people come in all shapes and sizes, colors in every melanin spectrum of rainbow, and with all kinds of sexual identities that may or may not be any of our damn business. None of them are “they.” We are all “we.” I’ve seen people rise up like a phoenix from ashes of utter despair; I’ve seen God turn mourning into joy. (Jeremiah 31)

My prayer for 2018, is that no one has to feel a failure that causes them to question their strength or who they are. That we all find family (which is not always blood-related.) It’s that every person can know or meet someone who calls out their destiny, their beauty, & their fierceness. It’s that religious goggles are removed and we see who Jesus was and who He’d have us be. It’s that we annihilate the marketing schemes of our churches and instead see pastors on their knees bandaging wounds. It’s that loving God and loving people align with Jesus’ heart for the fringes of society, the misfit, the broken, the weak, the orphan, the widow, the refugee, the girl who tried to commit suicide last week, the young man struggling with his sexuality, the person who can’t figure out what or who they are, the weary, the restless, the anxious, the depressed. That people would stop looking to the end of a gun or blade just to feel or to get out of the chaos that is life. That every person know that they have a calling in them to lead… if they’d just answer and someone would believe in them. That we’d begin to look at church as a place of acceptance, inclusion, and hope – where everyone belongs.

Resolutions or not.

Vision boards or not.

Goals, single words, and even prayers withstanding…

There will be failures; they don’t define you.

There will be hurt; you are not alone.

There may even be devastation…

Here’s the big difference, there’s hope in every moment if you are looking for it. If there’s no hope, then you go be that.

_______________________

Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’

Luke 10:30-35 MSG

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Dawn Sutherland

misfit-writer-speaker & social-justice-wannabe. I wander, but I'm not lost. I love Jesus not religion. My heart's cry is for every person to feel an empowered sense that they belong, and that we get to face the world wild and equipped with the love and hope of Jesus. I live in Suffolk, Virginia with my amazing husband, Louis and have four awesome kids: Katie, Ronnie, Selah, and Sami. I am also a passionate fitness instructor at the Suffolk YMCA. Subscribe to the blog, and stay tuned in for the book YOU BELONG to be published soon, which will talk about our desire as women to "fit in" and how we can harness that to change the world!