George A. Bowers Sr.: Homesick at New Year’s
I’ve enjoyed many New Year’s Eves over the years with my family and friends. Some have been spent quietly at home, some at church for Watchnight services complete with games and great refreshments, and some with a few friends watching the ball drop on television. As a boy, I remember some family get-togethers in our home on Saumsville Road, including one in which I was introduced to snipe hunting by my older brothers. But that’s a future column.
I distinctly remember another New Year’s Eve about that same time in my life when I spent the night in Saumsville with one of my best friends. David and I were in school together, rode the bus together, and cheered for the Miami Dolphins together. (We still do! For all the good it does.) Although we don’t talk often these days, he’s still a good friend and one of the funniest people I know.
But that night some 40-odd years ago is hard to get out of my mind because it was one of the few times in my life when I was truly homesick. I guess the holiday compounded the problem as I bemoaned the fact that I was away from my family for the turning of the calendar. We were in bunk beds so David didn’t know how I was struggling down below, and I eventually got to sleep. The next morning we enjoyed playing with the latest Christmas gifts, including competition tennis with the newest video game, Pong! Remember those days?
Many New Year’s Eves have come and gone since that night, but those memories of homesickness have never left. At New Year’s, we often have nostalgic feelings looking back with a sense of homesickness at the past 12 months and beyond. We long for days and times gone by and for the opportunity to return to those warm and comfortable memories.
At the same time, however, it’s important to take advantage of the privilege to look forward as well. New Year’s is a time not only to make resolutions and double down on self-discipline, but it’s also a time to set some long-term goals. Looking forward in hope toward future possibilities is a powerful motivation to move ahead with renewed courage and faith.
The years that have come and gone have brought their share of tragedies and sadness, deaths and losses, but also births and weddings! Just as Pong, Pacman, and Space Invaders have given way to Xbox, PlayStation, and Minecraft, so too we need to be open to the new opportunities God desires to bring into our lives. It is vital that we take the time to pray for discernment and wisdom to recognize what is from him and what is not. And when we know it’s his will, we need to invite his help to tackle it with confident optimism that can make each New Year the best yet.
Whatever you do in this New Year, I pray that you seek God’s help in evaluating your past and memories gone by as well as in embracing the joyful assurance of his presence and power in facing the challenges ahead in 2016. May God bless you as you do. Happy New Year! George
George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books including his latest book of poetry, Holy Verses. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.