Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

January 1, 2006


January first is more than just another day on the calendar


      The cynic will be amused by my response to the first day of the New Year. He will say, “Relax, Walter; it is just another day on the calendar. It has no more significance than any other day of the year.”

          Not for me. No sir. January first is a beautiful day. I love it.  I welcome it because it gives me a fresh start. Life has a way of grinding us down. A new beginning helps us deal with the unending misery of life.

          A new start enriches every aspect of life. Without new beginnings most marriages will not last. Mine would have ended in chaos and sadness years ago had my wife and I not forged at least forty new contracts along the way.

          Why so many fresh starts? That is easy; nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. We say things we wish we had not said. We do stupid things without thinking. I am the President of that Club. I have a gift for saying something dumb and before I have finished the sentence I am already asking myself the question, “Why in the world did you say that?”

          Making stupid comments can cost you the friendship of people you care about. I believe I have several good friends but every one of them has had to forgive me for saying something asinine. I think it is true that a real friend knows who you really are, so my true friends know that on occasion I can be a royal jerk. They know – and understand – that I can screw things up about as quickly as anyone.

          Friendship can survive only where people are willing to forgive one another and start over. Those who expect perfection from themselves and others wind up with few friends, if any. Only those who learn how to say, “Please forgive me,” will have lasting marriages or friendships.

          In the area of physical exercise, I have spent my life starting over. I paid forty-nine dollars for a Charles Atlas muscle-building kit when I was a teenager. I wanted muscles so the girls would admire me. I wanted hair on my chest. So for a few weeks I exercised like crazy. If only I had kept it, I might look like Arnold Schwarzenegger now and be governor of California.

          But alas, I do not. However, I do keep forgiving myself and starting over again. Once again I am planning to ride my stationery bike for 40 minutes a day and take better care of my aging body. Yes, I will probably quit again, but soon I will make a fresh start and go at it again. I am simply unstoppable – about starting over again.

          In the matter of reading for personal pleasure, I am making a new beginning. I have made a list of five books I plan to read in 2006. I started to say January, but at my age I need to stop putting undue pressure on myself. Other people are good at pressuring me so there is no need for me to help them. When I finish those five books, I will start on a new list. After all, I do want to watch a few good football games.

          My new woodwork shop is almost completed and the use of it fits into my plans for the New Year. My dream is to spend quality time in the shop with my sons and the other men in our family – as well as several of my friends. This represents truly a new beginning for me – a new hobby that can make a difference in my life.

          One genuine value of January first is the opportunity to put the past behind us by burying old wounds, lingering guilt, and hurt feelings. If we allow it, the pain of the past can dog us to the grave. But we can break the chains that bind us if we are willing to do one thing: Get Over it! Put if out of your mind. Stop regurgitating your hurts. Flush it all. Be done with it.

          Once we are willing to get over the stuff that enslaves us, we can move on. We can make a new start and nobody can rob us of the fun we will have in celebrating our freedom from past pain and failure.

          Today is not merely a new month and a new year. It is a glorious new day – a chance for a new beginning wherever you need a fresh start. Do not let the sun go down until you have started over putting first things first. Only then will you be truly ready for a Happy New Year! + + + +