My kids are newly four and almost seven. Do you know what their New Year’s resolutions are?
Their goals for this coming year are no different from their every day goals. Eat. Learn. Play. Have Fun. Ask. Ask for candy. Grow. Love. Be Loved. And also have a birthday. They are big fans of birthdays.
Now, of course, they wouldn’t call those goals. That’s just life for them. They haven’t really grasped the concept of a year or goals in the sense we grownups steeped in Western cultures make such a to-do over.
Seeing New Year’s Day as a vehicle for new goals and resolutions, making promises to ourselves and others is something we learn. It can be helpful to some. It’s surely profitable for others, calendar and planner makers, life coaches, self-help authors to name a few.
Where I get heartburn is that it’s also become another day or season to make something that it doesn’t have to be. We have to pick a “one word” and the perfect new planner. We do fasts of all kinds and start diets and join gyms. We make lists and plans and dream of ways we can be more organized. None of these things are bad, I’ve absolutely done all of them and probably will this year too.
But the whole of it, the social media feeds full of it, the advertising, the radio DJs comments, it’s just a lot of build up for one day! There’s an awful lot of hope being pinned on effort and things.
These well-known Scriptures kept bubbling up as I thought about this new year.
“Behold I will do a new thing.” Isaiah 43:19a
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Behold, I make all things new.” Revelations 21:5
Though they’re not about New Year’s per se, they are about God doing new things. So the culture I live in says this is the time of year for me to do new things, but the Scriptures I live out say that God has made me new and is the One who does the new things.
My pastor used Philippians 2:13 this week as the reminder to us that it’s God’s work in us that we join (with fear and trembling, no less!), not our own work.
This simplifies the day and season for me. There is work to do for sure, but it doesn’t have to be my (or anyone else’s) idea or design. My Father is doing the new thing and I get to join Him. And it’s a continual work that He is faithful to complete. Whew! My hopes for newness aren’t bound to a calendar or human timeline!
With the pressure off, I can approach the new year like a child does- just like every day. Eat. Learn. Play. Have Fun. Ask. Love. Be Loved.
(And throw a birthday in there, just for fun!)