Nothing New Year

At the start of a New Year many have new adventures to look forward to: starting school, university or a new job - perhaps in a new town. A wedding day, a new business venture, an Iron-man challenge. Whatever it is, it may bring ‘new birth’ excitement. You’re motivated, enthusiastic, full of ideas, passionate about the task, driven. You're even excited to get up in the morning and get going with your lot. 

For many, the start of the New Year has no new experiences to look forward to. You’re doing the same thing as last year - December 31st the sun set and January 1st the sun rose with no real difference in your life. One cannot think of any New Years Resolutions you really care for or have the energy to try and achieve. It feels like you have done it all before. You may be feeling contempt instead of contentment. But how do we change how we feel and get motivated?
In my previous post I reflected on how familiarity breeds contempt. The opposite of contempt is often respect. Do you remember the first month with your new car, the awe, the carwashes and polish, the careful driving, the thankfulness and gratitude?Remember getting your new books at school, the contact plastic and pretty underlining? Remember the enthusiasm for the subject? Do you remember the privilege of getting into your university years class to try achieving a degree, to be part of the group of students who have been given an incredible opportunity to achieve what many can never afford to? Remember what kind of professional you said you would be, what difference you would make?
I think that the ‘familiarity that breeds contempt’ may be one of the biggest thieves of life. I think to have no passion, no respect, no honour, no love for, no enthusiasm or dissatisfaction is the worst state we could be in.

Think of how it steals from your life…

The job you dreamed of getting is now the worst part of your day, and you start considering a new profession hoping it will change how you feel about work. In reality, the next job a couple months down the line will have the same lack of appeal if you don’t have an attitude change towards your work. Feeling a little appreciation for the seat you fill that many may wish to be in.

The business you started. All the shiny new equipment isn’t so shiny and new anymore. The challenge is over, it’s a functioning unit. I dare say… it is even starting to feel like a 9-5 day everyday. It's feeling a whole lot like a normal hard-working day. You don’t really feel like making a great impression on every new prospective client (you are a successful, established business after all). You don’t really feel like running the extra mile or making your product a step above the rest (the product you have has done fine till now). The challenge is gone! A new business may be the answer for the entrepreneur, but perhaps a reminder of how hard it was to start up in the first place, and what the reason was for your success - the service with a smile and the passion - may be what you need to regain your passion? Knowing what a privilege it is to own your own business, and being able to bless your staff with a good salary and an environment they love to work in?

Your bible - where is it as you’re reading this? How does it look? If you met with Christians in countries where they're persecuted, or with Christians who are unable to read or write, or unable to find a bible printed in a language they can understand, you would be reminded of what a privilege it is to have your own leather bound bible. If we weren’t so familiar with it, it wouldn't be so difficult to find time to read it. We wouldn’t try to find a reason to dishonour it. We would wipe it clean, have a special place for it, and treasure the time we get to read it openly and freely. We would share it with whoever we wanted. We would love its fragrance, and never leave or forget it behind.

Your marriage and relationships. Core relationship values are respect, commitment, intimacy and forgiveness. What then happens when you allow familiarity to set in? Unappreciated good-bye kisses, morning coffees, movie nights in, dinners prepared for you, bills paid, someone to always call and share news and laughs with, friends to share your life with?
Disrespect or contempt steals every joy from your relationships. You will look down on, mock (even in jest), be hurtful to, and be unthankful for them – resulting eventually in dissatisfaction. You may find it difficult to be patient, kind, gentle and loving. You won’t have any motivation to enjoy any time you have with the person you once could not stand being apart from for one second. Maybe it is a good idea to remember what drew you close to the person you loved in the first place. Imagine if today was your last day to share with them. Try spending a day with someone who is lonely and you will find the cure for your dissatisfaction - renewed love and respect! Finding the cure will help you find the joy and happiness you lost in your relationship too.

Quote: "John Gottman's theories of how to predict which couples will stay married state that there are four major emotional reactions that are destructive to a marriage: defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism and contempt. Among these four, Gottman considers contempt the most important of them all."

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

I waited in anticipation for the snowfall I believed with all my heart would fall for our last winter in Ireland. Whenever the weatherman gave any tiny indication of ice or snow, I was like a child at Christmas looking for Santa. I would get up several times a night and check outside my bedroom window to make sure I wouldn’t miss it if it started to snow. It didn’t snow most of the nights I got up, but I believed like Elijah in Kings 18:45, when he sent his servant up the mountain 7 times to check if the storm was coming that he believed God would send. Finally on the 7th trip, his servant said he saw a tiny cloud the size of his hand on the horizon. Elijah knew with that tiny bit of hope that a BIG storm was coming and it did. Every minus degree and white cloud was to me a sign of imminent snowfall. I was beyond excited!

Finally the snow day came! Oh my, the joy was incredible, its was beautiful and so special. We spent most of the day in the snow, making ‘Happy’ the snowman, and making snow angels, having snow ball fights, taking snow walks at 11pm, and bum skiing down the steepest and highest mountain we could climb. I would watch the snow flakes fall, in awe of what God has created and could shower down on us. The detail in every snowflake amazed me, the creation of the hoarfrost – the detail, formations and the sparkling white ice crystals was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced in nature. In the beginning we couldn’t get enough of the snow…

Two weeks later, I am getting ready to sleep; I take one last glance out the same bedroom window before closing the curtains. It is still snowing; it barely gets a second glance. No real excitement, no text messages to my friends to remind them to check outside, no more photos. What has changed? …
 The snowfall was just my reminder of how quickly it can set in
The saying goes as follows: "familiarity breeds contempt”.