We are such funny creations. Let me sum up the oxymoronic thought process we can often have: We, the “I-need-it-right-now” and “we-have-an-app-for-that” generation, have to wait until Dec. 31 (the very last day of the year) to make resolutions about making positive changes in our life. Or let me put it another way: We see the need to purchase our daily $7 Starbucks venti skinny caramel macchiato in an instant with our mobile phone, but we can’t hurry and make the important decisions on better health, finance, and lifestyle changes. Hmmm.
According to several sources on the internet, the origin of the New Year’s resolution began with the ancient Babylonians making promises to their gods at the start of each year. It was the time that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. And our friends, the Romans, would begin each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. So, in keeping with “tradition,” every year we make those hopeful statements to make better choices for us physically, spiritually and mentally.
About 11 years ago, I was asked to join a committee to see how our church could better serve our members and community. Sitting on my high pew, I suggested that we get out more and help those less fortunate. You see, our building was smack dab in the middle of downtown Kissimmee – an area known for a high homeless population. The idea was added to the long list of items to consider, and we all went home feeling pretty good about our intentions. For a couple of weeks, I wondered how the leadership would make good on the goals we put forth.
A few nights later, I was jonesing for an orange scone from Panera Bread. Because my husband loves me (and has memorized the golden rule – happy wife, happy life), he drove 20 minutes out of the way so I could appease my craving. I had to pinky promise that I would run in and out so we would be home in time to watch his favorite show. Little did I know, my obsession for this delectable delight would change our lives. You see, sitting inside this particular Panera Bread was my seventh grade Sunday school teacher, Ms. Jan Demond. As I was making my way to the counter, she immediately recognized my face and pointed at me as if I was a drunk Santa in a police lineup. Slowly, a Cheshire cat grin appeared across her lovely, aged face, as she chuckled and said, “Why, Cindy Coffman, come on over here!” Not wanting to miss out on the prize I came in for, and knowing I had little time for chitchat, I smiled and assured her I would stop by after my purchase.
As I made my way to her table, she rose to greet me. “Cindy,” she said, “you are an answer to prayer!” I nervously laughed and asked what she meant. “I run a program called ‘Life in the Son.’ It’s a place where we feed, clothe, and minister to the homeless. And we need help. Would you consider volunteering once a month to cook and serve these fine people?” Yeesh! What do I say to that? What kind of goober doesn’t want to help the homeless? As I fumbled for an answer, the best I could give was that I would talk to my husband and let her know. She insisted on giving her my phone number so she could follow up with me. I considered making up a number, but I am sure it is a double sin to lie to your childhood Sunday school teacher.
The short version of the story is we did agree to help. And our monthly commitment of volunteering 10 years ago in her program was the spark needed to develop a weekly routine of serving the homeless and displaced in Osceola County today. We are privileged to assist many folks who choose not to make important changes.
It is no secret that 2020 was a pretty … unusual year. We were all forced into making adjustments in every facet of our lives. Some lost their jobs, some lost their homes, and, tragically, some lost a loved one. If we knew in December 2019 what was on the horizon, would we have made different New Year’s resolutions?
Nido Qubein said, “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”
My friends, as long as we breathe, let’s see each day as an opportunity to make a resolution to be better human beings. Our world will be a better place for it.