The Other New Year… and the Rock in the Woods

I wonder if any of you are like me, celebrating your own personal “new year” on another day besides January 1?

Of course, there are cultural new years on other days on the calendar, such as Chinese New Year. But I’m talking about the day that you might consciously or unconsciously choose as a sort of anniversary where you take stock of yourself compared to where you were a year ago.

For me, that day is the Fourth of July and it’s for a strange, sad sort of reason. The Fourth of July when I was twelve, I overheard two people I loved dearly talking about me. They were completely unaware that I was listening to them as they evaluated me as a person. They weren’t cruel or judgmental, just painfully honest about my shortcomings. Granted, they also quite generously acknowledged a lot of my positive attributes. But, of course, all I heard and remembered for years were the negatives. And after that, the Fourth of July became a sort of annual check-up for me, where I stopped to evaluate myself and see if I’d “improved” or at least tried to correct the weaknesses that I – and they – saw in me.

It wasn’t until a summer many years later – maybe even another Fourth of July week-end – in the very same place, that I came to moment of peace and self-acceptance.

That year, I was in bad shape, overweight. I’d been dumped by my boyfriend and I was out of work. It was one of the lowest points of my life. I felt unloved, unattractive, undesirable, unemployable, and oh, so lonely. So I decided to really make myself feel worse and I went up to the mountains of Colorado where I had grown up and I locked myself away and just wallowed in self pity and solitary nights in front of the fireplace writing in my journal and asking God over and over again when would I be loved?

One morning I took a walk alone in the woods. I remember walking and crying and finally calling out to God in absolute misery, “What’s the matter with me?” And I picked up a rock from the ground and threw it in frustration. It landed on another larger rock and broke open. Inside, geode.

And suddenly, I had my very own Touched By An Angel revelation except I was touched by a rock. It was like a message from God that said – I made this rock and all the beauty inside it and this rock has been here forever and if you hadn’t smashed it just now, it would still be sitting there on the ground looking brown and plain and ordinary. But I would know the beauty inside. I would still see the beauty inside and that is enough. And I made you, Martha. You are more beautiful than any rock on this earth, and if nobody else ever appreciates who and what you are, I do. Your God. Your Creator. And that is enough.

And everything changed after that. I knew that I was special and unique to the only One that really counts. I told a girlfriend what happened and she shrugged, “well that sounds inspiring but get real. You can’t take God out for dinner and a movie.”

But you know what? You can. I started going out alone if I didn’t have a date. I started writing scripts even if I didn’t have a job. I started getting dressed up and looking my best even if no one else was looking. And you know what? People started looking and noticing a new confidence in me. Even better, there was a new peace.

People like to talk about that “secret” to life where you’re supposed to draw positive things TO you? Well, I think it’s the other way around. Let God show you all the positive things he’s already put inside you. And trust that if he thinks you’re special, then you are.

By the way, you may wonder where that life changing rock is? I left it right there, in the woods. Who knows who else may need to find it a hundred years from now.

Whenever you find yourself being terribly hard on yourself – give yourself a break. Break open that rock, instead! And by the way, Happy Fourth of July!

~ Martha