New Year, Old Me
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
It’s that time of the year when every website, magazine, and Twitter feed is selling January 1st-dated potential. Headlines like “New Year, New You” or “Ten Ways to Lose Weight/Get Rich/Find Love/Be the Best Person Ever in 2017.” And, hey, if that kind of inspiration works for you, more power to you. Go with it. May 2017 be your best year ever.
The only thing is, New Year’s Day, and the companion resolution-making process, has never been all that exciting to me. If anything, it’s always a little depressing. I have made resolutions but, truth be told, I’ve never really felt all that motivated to keep them. I used to think that was a character flaw. Now I just think that maybe resolutions tied to the date of January 1 just aren’t right for me.
Really, no significant change has ever happened in my life because I have set a date for it to happen. I fell in love gradually and unexpectedly. And one day in college I decided to trade my law school applications in for seminary ones, not because that day was special, but because it had just come to the point that I knew that was what I needed to do.
The thing about God’s grace, and the changes that it causes us to make, is that it rarely comes on our own schedules, and even less rarely on a date that has rather arbitrarily, at this place and this time in the whole of history, come to be the start of a new year. So my guess is that if something big happens in my life this year, it will come because of God’s grace, and it will come on some random unexpected date, and maybe all at once, or maybe little by little.
So, this year I’m not making resolutions. I’ve decided I don’t want a “new year, new me.” Really, it’s taken a lifetime to get to this “me,” and I’m pretty happy with who I am, and all the little graces that have made me me. My hope is next year at this time I’ll be pretty happy to be me too.
Dear God, thank you for all the ways you change and shape my life every single day. And thank you for another year. Amen.
Emily C. Heath is the Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire, and the author of Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity.