The Pressure of A New Year
Happy New Year, everyone! Regular posts will resume next week, but I wanted to hop on and share a few things on my mind this morning.
A new year often ushers in a variety of emotions. For some, a new year feels full of promise and opportunities for a new beginning. A clean page, not yet tainted by the illegible scribblings of life. For others, it feels like putting all of the hard of the previous year into a vault under lock and key, hopefully never to be seen again. For still others, the new year is a time to make resolutions—commitments to stop something or start something, or to achieve a goal.
Maybe it’s the wisdom that comes with age. Maybe it’s cynicism (I have been accused of being a negative Nelly). Or perhaps it’s a bit of both. But as I’ve aged, I think about a new year a little differently—with less anticipation but also with less pressure. I’ve learned that a new year cannot (and never will) live up to the hype.
We place a lot of hope on a new year and a lot of pressure on ourselves to be dramatically different. But at the risk of sounding like a Debbie downer, nothing has changed. There’s no magic to the clock striking midnight. We still live in a broken world where promises get broken; expectations of ourselves, God, and others go unmet; disappointment, hardship, and loss occur; and desires go unfulfilled. It is a new year, but all of the good and bad of life still happens.
New Year’s isn’t some magical pill that instills us with superpowers, makes us into new people, or turns life into something dreamy and uncomplicated overnight. But that doesn’t mean we are without hope, destined to a life of misery, or unable to realize significant changes in our lives. It just means we need to remember that life will always be life. Complex and full of ups and downs. It means that people will always be people. They will hurt and disappoint us in profound ways. It means that we will never be more than human—gloriously, beautifully complex, flawed, and finite. And it means we need to place our hope in something more substantive and powerful. Because life hasn’t changed. But neither has God. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He alone is our new beginning. And, thankfully, his mercies are new every day.
So make that resolution. Dream about the new year ahead. Take a deep breath as you close the door on 2022. But do so, knowing that life is still going to happen. You are going to make mistakes. You may fall off the wagon of your diet, or Bible reading plan, or exercise routine. Your resolve to “do better” in 2023 may wane, and you may find yourself once again limping across the finish line into 2024. And that is ok. Because life isn’t as much about grand gestures, dramatic changes, or major accomplishments as it is about small, simple steps of faith. It’s what Eugene Peterson called a long obedience in the same direction.
So here’s to the new year, new morning mercies, and one more day of a long obedience in the same direction!
All my love,