Michelle Martin

Happy New Year

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

I never wanted to live in interesting times.

As a child, like most children, I accepted the circumstances of the world around me as the default. The way things were was normal, the way they always had been — barring those exciting periods of history we read about in schoolbooks — and the way they always would be.

I certainly did not think that I was living through history, even though I have a distinct memory of being mightily put out that our local PBS station preempted “Sesame Street” to show the Watergate hearings, Walter Cronkite was giving casualty totals from Vietnam on evening news and the Weekly Reader we got in school explained what “resignation” meant. We waited in line for gas, and as energy became more expensive, my dad fined us a quarter each time we were the last person out of a room and we left the lights on. I’m not sure he ever actually collected, though.

It’s possible that my family was more politically aware, or at least talked politics with us kids, more than most, but we always knew what was going on, and we were allowed — encouraged, even — to have opinions, and to express them.

These last few years, I don’t think anyone could miss that the times had become very interesting indeed. From the first news about a new illness to the world shutting and the streets going silent was a period of no more than three months. Two months after that, just as people were becoming more impatient to go back to the way things were, the U.S. was rocked by the murder of George Floyd and the protests calling for racial justice in its aftermath.

My children, no doubt, will grow up and tell the kids around them that, “It was the 2020s. Things were different then,” just like I tell them about the 1970s.

Now, as we pass into third year since the pandemic started, nearly all pandemic-related restrictions are gone, but COVID-19 appears to be here to stay. Even though we’ve gone back to the way things were, nothing is the same as it was. One lesson that we have to learn over and over is that we can never go back, only forward.

After the events of the last few years, I would never presume to make any predictions for the coming year, or even resolutions as to what I want to accomplish.

I do hope, however, to become more patient and to procrastinate less. Patience I need with myself, with my family and friends, with the world around me and with God. If I say I believe in Divine Providence, I must be willing to wait to see what it brings. I’m going to wait whether willing or not, so I might as well make my peace with it.

But that doesn’t give me license to endlessly dither, putting off what needs to be done in the hope that there will be some perfect moment when it will all become easy. That also applies to doing the things that give me joy; putting them off until they are convenient can easily mean putting them off until they are off the table entirely.

This year, I hope we all make the effort to cultivate God’s grace in our lives, and have the patience to watch that grace bloom.


  • family life