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Laugh Again

How to Spoil a New Year

 

Last updated 2/1/2019 at 1:20pm

It's the start of a New Year. A new beginning. New hope. Some people resolve to get some exercise-to start walking between the fridge and the couch, rather than using a scooter. Others ask, "What kind of person do I want to be by the end of the year?"

This year I'm asking, "What kind of person do I not want to be?

I think we've all met some people we don't want to become. Like the lady down the block who owns 49 ferrets and stands at her front window pointing her hair dryer at passing cars. Or that guy across the street with his tongue stuck to the lamp post. I think Louie is his name. I don't think we want to become a pet-food taster, a shark-tank cleaner, a snake milker, or a dog-breath Sniffer. These are actual jobs. I'm not making them up. Honest.

But there are two things in particular that I don't want to be this year.

The first thing is bitter. Do you know any bitter people? It usually begins with grousing. "The string in the teabag fell into the water." "When I crunch potato chips I can't hear the TV." "My seedless watermelon has a seed in it."

Focusing on small things that are wrong leads to full-blown bitterness.

One New Year's Eve at London's Garrick Club, British dramatist Frederick Lonsdale was asked by his friend Seymour Hicks to reconcile with a fellow member. Lonsdale and the other member had quarrelled for years and never restored their friendship.

"You must," Hicks said to Lonsdale. "It is very unkind to be unfriendly at such a time. Go over now and wish him a happy New Year."

So Lonsdale crossed the room and spoke to his enemy. "I wish you a happy New Year," he said. "But only one."

My friend Wayne tells me that a cornered rattlesnake sometimes becomes so angry it bites itself. Harbor hate and relish resentment and you bite yourself.

The cure to ending bitterness is gratitude. It's a moment-by-moment decision to thank God for what He is up to.

Another thing we don't want to be this year is miserly. Stingy. A tightwad. We all know one. In giving our time, our resources, and ourselves, we invite outrageous joy in as a permanent houseguest.

I told a story on the radio about my granddaughter Eowyn. She thanks God for everything. Salt. Pepper. Salad. Forks. Shoes. Her little brother. Ask her to pray and you'll be there a while. Michael Myers was listening. He mailed me three pictures. Michael has no kids of his own, but this past year he has helped a refugee couple furnish their apartment. He has bought them food, brought them clothes, and showed them the love of Jesus.

With their baby due in February and their parents in Algeria, the couple asked, "Would you be Grandpa?"

Tears came to Michael's eyes. And then he couldn't stop smiling. "Absolutely," he agreed.

The baby came two months and ten days early. Arees (meaning Lily) weighed three pounds, four ounces. Grandpas know such things. In the first two pictures a beautiful baby is lying in an incubator. The third photo is of a coat Michael bought for this precious little girl.

Like the little baby, the new mama smiles a lot. "God must have put you in our lives, Michael," she said. She was right of course.

May gratitude and generosity characterize our lives this New Year. I think I'll start with my neighbors. I better check on Louie. I'll bring some warm water.

Phil Callaway speaks, writes books, and has a radio show called Laugh Again. Visit him at philcallaway.com.

 
 

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