The world is a very confusing place. It’s filled with a lot of good moments and bad moments; the happy times we cherish and the things we wish we could forget; successes and failures, hits and misses, good choices and terrible mistakes. The end of the year, and the transition time from one year to the next, makes me think on this sometimes. Time is both slow and far too fast all at the same time, and it seems that I’m never quite ready for the year to end. It’ll probably take the entire month of January for me to get used to writing “2016” on all my papers and correspondence. I usually try to avoid looking back over the previous year, and when I do, I try to focus on the positive memories as much as I possibly can.
Something that has been very positive for me in 2015 was a decision I made back in February. After much internal debate and discussion, I decided to contact a fan website about submitting some writing, even though I didn’t know what to expect from the site or what they would expect from me. Luckily, the admin of that fan website turned out to be a pretty nice guy, and my “Mysterious Ways” lyric analysis column was born! Writing for U2 Radio has been a good experience for me and I’ve enjoyed sharing my ideas and getting feedback from so many nice people, and as we wrap up 2015, I couldn’t be more pleased to be here.
One of the reasons I enjoy writing so much is that it lets me feel like I’ve accomplished something. When I write, I can use my skills (the skills I’m continually trying to improve) to make something new and unique to me. Writing is a way to be both creative and productive. And one of the reasons I enjoy the opportunity to write for U2 Radio is that in addition to feeling like a productive individual, I feel like I’m making a difference in some small way. If I can make one person reflect on a song or idea in a different way, if I can make one person think something that they’d never thought of before, then I’ve made a difference. It may be a small difference, but it’s still a success, and even if no one else notices, that matters to me. And the idea that even small differences can add up to great things reminds me of the song Rejoice.
“And what am I to do?
Just tell me what am I supposed to say?
I can’t change the world
But I can change the world in me.
Everyone has those moments of confusion, where we look around and have no sense of direction. Maybe you’re like me, and you look back over the year and you wonder where the time went and you feel disoriented, and you wonder if anything has really changed in all that time. Or maybe you’re going through a lot of changes and you can’t keep track of everything, and you’re hoping that 2016 will bring a fresh start. Maybe you’re running out of things to say, or maybe you have too many words to get out.
Maybe, like me, you have moments of doubt where you wonder if you’re moving forward or not. Maybe you know exactly where you’re going but have no idea how to get there. Maybe you feel all of those things; maybe you feel none of them. Regardless of whether any of those statements apply to you, you can change the world for yourself. Life is what you make of it. You can’t always control what happens in your life, but you can control what you do about it, and you can influence the way you react to it. You have the power to make the best of a bad situation, and you have the power to make things better, even if you’re only helping one other person. It’s as simple as smiling at someone.
We may not all have the power to make a big splash and change the lives of millions of people, and we can’t all be famous and influential like U2 (and let’s face it: not all of us would want to be). But every day is a new opportunity for other people and for ourselves. We can still change everything. And to do it, all we have to do is rejoice.
Rejoice in all things.
Rejoice because someone smiled at you on the way to work. Rejoice because you have a cup of coffee. Rejoice because you got to wake up and enjoy one more day. Rejoice because there’s some good music playing on the radio. Rejoice because the sun is shining. Rejoice because it’s raining. Rejoice because in the album version, it sounds like Bono shouts a Russian slang exclamation of excitement (“ё моё!”) towards the end of the song. Rejoice because someone told a great joke. Rejoice because someone encouraged you. Rejoice because someone loves you.
Rejoice because even if you think nobody cares, somebody does.
Life is too short to not take pleasure in all the great things that surround us every day. Even though it sounds silly, simply trying to be happy and thankful can turn everything around.
To me, this song is about living with a joyous heart even in the face of uncertainty. In the new year, there are many things to come, and no one knows what the future holds, but no matter what, we have to hold on to joy and faith and happiness.
The lyrics about buildings tumbling down and the child on the ground remind me of Jesus, who impressed Jewish scholars as a child, who shook up the social structure of Biblical times, and who changed the world in a big way (and whose death caused the Temple veil to be torn, and who said that He would return and change everything yet again). The rest of the song reminds me of myself. I look around at the world, I’m shocked by truths and sudden epiphanies, and what can I do? Nothing. I am one person. My reach and abilities are limited.
But 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no man despise your youth; but be an example to those who believe, in word, in your way of life, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.”
I can’t do much. I’m not a nation. I’m not powerful. I’m not wealthy. I’m not famous. I’m not Bono. And I can’t change the world. But I *can* change the way I live, and the way I do things, and the way I see the world. I can choose to see the world as a good creation, and I can choose what to do with all the news and epiphanies that come my way. I can make the decision to write for an online radio station, and I can keep writing in the hopes of changing someone’s perspective. I can choose to do my best, and to do what I can with a joyful heart. I can choose to make the most out of my life, my decisions, and my opportunities.
I can choose to be the change I wish to see in the world (thanks, Gandhi!)—even if that change only happens in the smallest of ways.
Because small changes are like ripples in a pond: they spread, they grow, and the multiply. Little movements become big works; young children grow up to lead important lives; and tiny mustard seeds become giant trees.
We *can* change the world, and I intend to.
As we leave 2015 behind and enter the year 2016, I encourage all of you to do the same.