When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be made whole?” ~ John 5:5
Happy New Year! I love new beginnings. The start of a new year. New season. New semester. New quarter. New month. New week. They all signify to me I can start over. I can start over eating right on Sunday. I can get a fresh start on being more organized in the new month. As an educator or student, we start with a new slate at the beginning of every quarter or semester. I can purge my closet of things I haven’t worn and make room for new blessings in a new season. And, of course in the new year, I can restart everything. New beginnings help us on our journey to wholeness.
While 2018 had some brokenness for all of us, in 2019 we can be whole. One of the narratives in the Bible that has always fascinated me is when Jesus healed the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5. Before Jesus heals the man, he asked him, “Do you want to be made whole?” I’ve always found that question curious. Why does Jesus ask that; who wouldn’t want to be whole? Who would choose not to operate at full capacity if given a choice? After giving this some thought, I have concluded, we often make the choice not to be whole because we don’t have to take responsibility.
In addition to being a university faculty member, I serve as the coordinator of advising for my department. Among other things, I am primarily responsible for making sure each major is assigned a faculty advisor their junior year. Sometimes I act in the stead of my department chair. There are some things that only he has access in our registration system to do. Often, he has commented that as the advising coordinator, I, too, need the same level of access that he has. He is probably right. However, I rarely remind him to follow up about getting me that access. Why? Because I am happy not having more responsibility. Instead of acting with the full capacity my chair has, which would lighten his load, I am quite satisfied to have regular faculty access to our system. I hope he doesn’t read my blog.
This is a minor example of avoiding responsibility. What “benefits” do we get out of other areas of our lives, when we don’t have to take responsibility? What happens when we get stuck and blame our parents, spouse, children, siblings, boss, or co-workers for misfortune in our lives. Yes, we were done wrong. But, does it matter that it was one, five, or 15 years ago? What happens when we don’t do what we need to do to go to the next level in our lives? Whether it is going back to school, learning to better manage our finances, or getting out of dead and toxic relationships? Every time we choose to stay stuck we are choosing to operate in dysfunction; we are choosing the comfort of victimhood over the responsibility of personal agency; and we have an excuse not to be and do better. Thus, Jesus’ question makes total sense especially when our choices and behaviors have answered otherwise.
In this new beginning of 2019, let’s choose to be whole in all areas of our lives!
Happy New Year!