Well, another year has passed and we now usher in a new one. Today we declare the resolutions upon which we'll embark as we seek to become better people, and tomorrow we'll get to work breaking them. New Year's Day is a time of celebration and introspection, a time of renewal and a time for hope. With that said, I offer up a bit of introspection, resolution and hope.
I'll start off with an easy one. This year I resolve to exercise more and eat less. I make this resolution in the full knowledge that, like the decorative soaps in the guest bathroom, it is completely pointless. It won't happen. Every day I tell myself I need to exercise more, and every day I come face to face with my infinite to-do list, put off the exercise until tomorrow. The resolution to eat less is also laughable. My oldest daughter Naomi has taken up cooking and is really, really talented at it. I'm not talking macaroni and cheese either. I mean potato soup, homemade beef stew, a variety of Mexican dishes, and more. I'm talking about down home comfort food like I had the other night, with home fries and slabs of meatloaf bathed in barbeque sauce. I always tell myself I will just eat a small portion, but it's a lie. It tastes so good I just can't help myself. Besides, when she worked so hard to take care of her daddy, it would be a form of child abuse to eat just a little bit, right? It would break her heart!
I resolve to be a better father this year. My oldest son Elijah just turned 19 and will be leaving soon to serve a mission among the people of southern Mexico. The realization that he is leaving me has taxed my emotions more than I ever suspected possible. I look at the man he has become in spite of my shortcomings as a father and it humbles and amazes me. It makes me want to work harder to be an even better father for the rest of my children, to correct the mistakes I made over the years. So I shall work even harder to make each moment count not only with Elijah, but with Naomi (the "second mom" who helps manage the rest of the kids), Shai (my little black-belt ninja), Noah (chess player and amateur comedian), Malachi (helper and handyman), Ezekiel (my boy who loves to laugh and learn), Mahalie (my drama queen, where everything is either super great or the end of the world, but who makes me feel like Superman when she curls up in my arms), and my baby, Echo (that beautiful tiny tyrant who showers us all with love, yet demands strict obedience from us in responding to her demands for juice, food, blankets and whatever else her heart requires).
I resolve to be a better husband. My wife is a saint who puts up with me, home-schools eight children, is a Cub Scout leader and teaches sunday school for little kids, who does the accounting for my business, and in short who, when looking at all she does in a day, makes me feel lazy compared to her even if I just worked 12 hours. She is my rock, she is my confidante, and she is the yin to my yang. She deserves all that I can give and more.
I resolve to be more patient, humble and tolerant. Anyone who knows me knows there is very little gray with me, just black and white. I am a Christian man who believes in the divine founding of America, the Judeo-Christian philosophy of our Founding Fathers and the miraculous republic that they formed. I have little patience with people that belittle America, and who say we are, as President Obama did, no more or less great than any other country. I get easily agitated when I hear people claiming America is a bad or imperialistic nation, which degrades the sacrifice of the millions that sacrificed so much for our freedom and prosperity.
Ignorance bothers me at a core level. It is like nails on a chalkboard when I hear someone refer to America as a democracy, or when they talk about our unlimited "right" to vote, or to healthcare, or to high speed Internet, or to never be offended. I have a visceral reaction when people insist that religious expression must never be conveyed in public due to some mythical "separation of church and state." This year I will increase my efforts to be more patient as I discuss divergent opinions from my own, and take time to realize that people may disagree with me on certain topics (like income inequality, the "99 percent versus the 1 percent," the need for the rich to pay their "fair share," the need for more socialist income redistribution, the need to bankrupt our economy in order to combat the ridiculous secular religion of global warming, etc.), not because they are blooming idiots or socialist malcontents, but because they just have a different viewpoint. This is extremely difficult because I spend a lot of time studying these issues, and get impatient with people telling me I am wrong when they haven't really studied it out (maybe this is where that humility thing comes in, huh?).
There are many other things I need to work on as a person to improve myself, and if I have missed any, I know that my wife, children and friends with gladly point them out. And if they miss any, well, that is what a mother-in-law is for, right? Because behind every good man is a better woman and a shocked mother-in-law.
In closing, I would like to bring up the topic of hope. This last year has been a tough one for my family, just as it has been for so many other Americans. This new year is likely to bring more challenges; sustained high unemployment and underemployment, a staggering and ever increasing national debt, increasing polarization on social issues like abortion and homosexual marriage, uncertainty in our future because of entitlement programs going bankrupt. It is enough to make one lose hope in the future.
Yet America is great because America is good. Even as politically divided as we are today, most Americans truly want what is best for this nation; we just have drastically different views on how to fix our problems. This morning, I joined a group of friends for breakfast and fellowship, brought together by a mutual desire to be better men through our Savior, Jesus Christ. I found that we all have weaknesses, we all suffer with different struggles; no one is immune. Yet, if America can still produce such decent men as these, and the good wives that support them, then God will see America through its current struggles as He has all others.
So on this New Year's Day, this day of renewal, may I wish my family, my friends, and each of you a most blessed and Happy New Year. May God be with you and hear your prayers, and give to you what you most need at this time, even if that is not what you most want. And may He grant you wisdom to discern between the two.
Louis DeBroux is a Taylorsville resident, married, with eight children. He is chairman of the Bartow County Republican Party. He owns Gatekeeper data backup and recovery. He can be emailed at email@example.com.