I was out shopping last week when I started to leave the store and one of my favorite songs started to play over the speakers. It was U2’s classic “Where the Streets Have No Name.” If you’ve never heard it, it opens with a very ethereal synthesizer sound, and the guitar doesn’t come in until the 42-second mark (I had to look this up, I’m not really that much of a nerd). After the addition of the other instruments, the vocals finally start. But what I realized as this song began is that I will stand there for those 42 plus seconds without fail. If I’m in the store, I won’t walk out, if I’m turning off the car, I won’t shut off the radio until Bono starts to sing. Part of me would feel incomplete if I left the song during that intro. Noticing this about myself caused me to notice why it is that I do this: I love seeing the beginning of something amazing. Actually, I love seeing the beginning of any formative event.
I enjoy when reading a book and it transitions from the setup of the characters and the plot, finally driving into the story. I like meeting new people, taking on new projects, and learning new skills. There is a downside to all of this newness, though. It’s possible for me to get bored with things quickly and walk out on them. Note that I rarely get a chance to listen to the entire song of “Where the Streets Have No Name.” I can abandon that newly started project; I can give up on the new skill when it comes to mastering it. Newness and novelty have a tendency to fade. Not to mention that because of my faith, I give significant value to perseverance—Peter lists perseverance as one of the marks of maturity in following Jesus (2 Peter 1:5-9). So, it’s not as if I can chalk up my love of newness to “just part of who I am” and forget about the rest.
Yet, I do see value in enjoying what is new. That joy can also be utilized to help me to keep going in the midst of challenges. Each day is an opportunity for new formation: of my character, of the projects and tasks I face, and of the goal I have for myself. My faith also plays a part here, in that the Scriptures proclaim a God whose mercy is renewed every day. That mercy is not renewed because God got bored with it from yesterday, but because that’s how He chooses to engage us. Bringing this sort of joy in new things (coupled with envisioning each day’s tasks as new opportunities) allows me to not grow tired in doing some of the same things over and over again.
Maybe you’re like me, with a tendency to become bored and look for some new challenge. Maybe you come at life from the other end of the spectrum—not wanting anything new, trusting in that which has proven to be true through past performance (I have that tendency with some other things in my life). Either way, there is value in embracing the flipside—I have to adjust my way of engaging so that I can balance things out. This doesn’t change my natural inclination, but allows who God has made me to be leveraged into the areas of life where I need a more long range perspective. I mean, if I didn’t take a broader perspective on things, I don’t know that I’d still be listening to U2.