Hope for a Chocolaty 2012

For years, sweet treats were never much of a temptation for me. But my dear wife always kept her stash and, well, you can only guess the rest of the story. It’s like the Bible says: Bad company corrupts good morals! I am now a certified fan of chocolate. An American staple, this tasty treat serves as a perfect complement to any meal—or between meal snack for that matter. What chocolate lover wouldn’t want the coming year to be filled with sweet bliss?

Photo by danielmoyle - CC BY 2.0

With the turn of the year, it’s been interesting to hear people comment about 2011. A small handful felt that it was an amazing year. A larger number, it seems, are anxious to put it fully behind us in anticipation of a better 2012.

For many, the idea of putting a bad year behind them is an annual ritual. It begins with hopefulness of better things to come, but with each passing year the hope lessens and the joy of celebration begins to fade. January 1 offers no more promise than December 31.

A mix of factors contributes to our perception of a year. Some are beyond our control—the loss of a loved one for example. Our general outlook on life is another key. Let’s face it; if my perspective is negatively inclined, the likelihood of having a highly favorable year is pretty much nil.

Seriously now, what are the chances of life’s circumstances exactly aligning with our desires? I remember a former pastor saying, “No matter how good life gets, there will always be a fly in the ointment.” Apparently this applies to chocolate as well.

Photo by hayouji - CC BY-ND 2.0

Most of us are aware that the government allows a certain number of insect and rodent parts in chocolate. (Supposedly this allowance temporarily increases every 7th year to allow for the locust cycle.) While we prefer not to think about the reality of bugs in our momentary sweet escapes from the harsh realities of life, the truth is that no real damage is done. Think about it—some people eat chocolate covered insects on purpose! One expert even believes that the allowance should be increased so that we would consume more of the more healthy insects and less of the less healthy pesticides used to kill those bugs. Makes sense. (I think.)

Personally, I’ve come to enjoy a good piece of dark chocolate, but prefer not to look for those stray insect parts. Sometimes I close my eyes to avoid ruining the moment. Having not found a bug in any of my treats, I’m not sure if I’d be grossed out or not. Would I continue to enjoy the sweet, rich taste of the candy, or would I throw it in the garbage in disgust? Would my day be completely ruined by a few bug legs (or wings, or heads, etc.)?

Photo by Rudoni Productions - CC BY-SA 2.0

Life is never perfect. If our happiness depends upon circumstances being just right, we’ll miss the sweetness and find ourselves sullen and depressed. Let’s face it, in our fallen world we don’t have to look for negative circumstances. They’re all around us! And if we want 2012 to be better than 2011, one of the keys is to change the manner in which we process the negative circumstances of our lives. Admittedly, this has never been my strength, although I think I’ve improved in recent years.

Through the next several weeks I’ll share a few of the keys that have helped me to better enjoy the sweetness of walking with God. In the meantime, whether it be dark, milk or white; in candy, cake or cookie, I wish you a sweet, chocolaty, hope-filled 2012!

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