I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions! For me, they are a little like Valentine’s Day, in that I feel they shouldn’t require a specific point in time to tell you to do something. Before you read too much into it and start feeling sorry for my wife (feel sorry for her, but not because of this!), I simply think that you shouldn’t need the year on the calendar to tick over to start something new or make changes in your life. The same is true of Valentine’s Day… you shouldn’t need a specific day to remember to tell or express your love to your significant other.
That being said, I set out on my own New Year’s resolution 12 months ago to lose 100lbs during 2021. Whilst I didn’t quite manage the whole 100lbs, I did lose 1/5 of my body weight (over 80lbs) and remain committed to continuing the weight loss journey… so maybe the New Year Resolution thing holds some weight (pun intended!)
I must confess, that prior to writing this month’s wePRAY, I’d never watched this film all the way through, but given the theme this month is Devotion, it struck me as being the perfect film.
For those who haven’t seen it, it features a curmudgeonly man called Carl, who as a child, once dreamt of visiting the forbidden Paradise Falls in South America, following in the footsteps of his hero, the intrepid explorer Charles Muntz. In his childhood, he falls in love with Ellie, a kindred, adventurous spirit, and they make plans to head off on this big adventure, however life gets in the way and 64 years later, Ellie passes away leaving Carl without the love of his life and their shared dream of visiting Paradise Falls in tatters. The home they’ve shared has been surrounded by high rise developments and it seems that his life has hit rock bottom. But Carl is determined to finally make his dream come true. He ties thousands of helium balloons to the roof of his home with the ambitious plan of flying his small cottage to South America! Unbeknownst to Carl, Russell, a Wilderness Scout he’d hired to do some odd jobs, has stowed away in the house and ends up on the adventure!
When I’d heard about Up, I’d assumed that, at its heart, it explored what it means to be devoted to something, or someone for so long. It would unpack the passion and determination required to stick with it, through tough times and good and seek to ensure that the goals and aims you have can be achieved. It may have taken Carl 64 years, but he makes it to Paradise Falls and ultimately, we can feel good about persistence and delayed gratification.
And yet, if I’m being totally honest, this wasn’t what I felt when I’d finished watching it. I felt heartbroken for Carl, that he never got to do these things with Ellie. I was sad that he couldn’t or wouldn’t see that a new chapter of his life was being offered through the relationship with Russell, someone who could help Carl move forward with his life (a mutually beneficial relationship). But above all I found it hard to watch someone who’d become so devoted to something that everything else had lost value and meaning. What made it harder was that the thing he’d been devoted to, had also lost its value, and meaning.
It got me thinking about east to west and our ethos: What does it mean to be devoted? Does it mean spending 64 years waiting to see a dream realised, only to understand that something about that dream is now missing? Is it about recognising that life gets in the way of our dreams and hopes, and sometimes these get relegated to second place behind the practicalities of reality? Or perhaps it’s about not shutting people out, but rather allowing them to share these things and help us grow and expand them?
When east to west meet with a child, young person, or family, we’re privileged to share a moment with them. It may be simply an hour in the day, but in that moment, they are the most important thing to us. They are our focus and concern. Their needs and worries are our priority, and as such, we decide to put all other things to one side for that period. It isn’t always easy. We can have things going on in our own lives that can be a distraction, or which need doing, and yet in that moment… we are devoted to those we’re supporting, helping them to understand their value and their meaning.
So, this month, can I suggest you make some time to re-visit your dreams? Maybe now is the time to either put them into action, or dream afresh (or if you want, create a New Year’s resolution)!
January Prayer Requests
It’s January, and we’ve asked Ian, east to west’s Head of Operations to share some prayer pointers from his team – the finance team, the Early Intervention Co-ordinators (EICs), and Relational Support Counsellors (RSCs).
Prayer for wisdom as the EICs continue to establish key relationships within their school projects.
Wisdom and understanding in which support groups to run within schools and the best ways to implement them.
Prayer for establishing and maintaining relationships with staff at the schools, particularly those that are new to east to west.
Wisdom in identifying which young people would benefit from support groups.
For Hollie Mock as she joins the team and supports young people in three schools across Spelthorne.
Give thanks that the EIC team have worked with 60 young people since September, pray that these young people will be able to move forward with the strategies they worked out with the team.
Our counsellors, Tracy, Philippa & Helen are facing an increased need for their support on schools – please pray for wisdom on their part, and on the part of the team in schools, as they identify the young people that need ongoing support and those who have developed resilience and no longer need regular support
COMING SOON: Incredibles 2