Here we are at the cusp of tomorrow. Jan. 1. A new year. Full of unimagined potential.
For the last couple of weeks, I've been pondering all sorts of possibilities for my life in 2015. I've discerned that this will be the year I start embroidering and juicing and returning my library books on time. And meditating every morning. But why stop there? This will also be the year that I remember the birthdays of my friends and their kids! And downsize all of my personal belongings, consistently use the crock pot, write a novel and become more engaged in issues of social justice.
With my new planner, specially ordered wall calendar and membership in an organized online program for goal implementation, I should have no trouble making 2015 the #bestyearever! Right? Can I get an amen?
Wait. Stop! Stop right there! I've done it again. I've gone N.Y.O.B. — New Year's Overboard.
It's fair to say that I put a lot of pressure on the start of a new year. I don't mean to overwhelm myself with goals and ideas and new labeling systems, but I do. Consistently. Every Jan. 1.
It's just that a new year seems like the perfect time to get to work on every single goal I've ever had! Hey, fellow Type A out there — I know you know what I'm talking about! The first day of January is so sparkly and new and full of potential. It's like a crisp, clean sheet of blank white paper. Everything seems possible on New Year's Day.
I tear up a little bit on the last day of family vacations because I'm not ready for the anticipation and fun to be over. I generally feel the same small twinge of sadness as I crawl into bed on Jan. 1, thinking, "Just 364 more days until I get to start over again." But that's no way to start off Jan. 2! It doesn't even make sense! There must be a healthier approach. Maybe I don't need to put every single egg in the Jan. 1 basket.
I like the start of a new year because it feels like a do-over. A chance to start fresh. An opportunity to be exactly the person I want to be and get it all just right. The first day of the year is awesome because it's new and I get to be new, too.
The problem is that even with a new year, I'm never going to get it all just right. I'm going to forget birthdays and pass up my crock pot for some delicious Potato Oles from Taco Johns. Some mornings I'll play on my phone instead of meditate. And Rochester Public Library, I'll tell you right now, I'm going to have a few late fees. Bottom line: I'm going to get distracted and fail and make mistakes in 2015 just like I did in 2014. The reality I want to remember: God will love me anyway. And God will love you, too.
Friends, goals are cool. Resolutions are nice. But even if we fail at all of them, we're still loved. We're still valuable. We're still invited to keep participating in the kingdom of God, sharing love with a broken world. No matter how often we miss the mark, we're still made new. And this renewal is not through our own efforts but through the grace and love of God. In Jesus, we have the opportunity to experience the joy of a new year every single day.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul says, "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!"
Everything has become new! What great news! Perhaps even more exciting than the sight of the ball dropping at the stroke of midnight!
Paul understood how transforming it is to feel new … to trust that the old stuff won't hold us back anymore … to believe that we're free and forgiven. Paul knew that the gift of becoming a new creation in Christ has the power to reshape us. The unconditional love of Jesus reorients us toward the most important resolutions of all: loving God, loving our neighbors and loving ourselves.
We are each a new creation today and we will each be a new creation tomorrow. Every single day, we are made new. May this daily renewal light our grace-filled paths throughout the year ahead.