New Year, New You?
Every year begins with a sense of expectation over what is to come in the year ahead. Just as I was waxing lyrical about plans and dreams for 2008 one of my close friends conceded that she hoped only to ‘survive’ the year ahead.
This reminded me of two common pit falls relating to aspirations, the first is that the past is not part of who we are, the second is that the past is all of who we are. As we enter this new year, some people will treat it purely as a continuum of all of the pain and distress of 2007, whilst others will hope that a change in the calendar offers them a new identity, waistline, career and emotional make up.
New year offers a new beginning, in the sense that it is a helpful marker to distinguish one passage of time from another. It enables us to reflect back upon what has gone and what is coming. I believe that these passages of time are part of God’s created order within which he created us. Interestingly during the French Revolution the week was altered from 7 to 10 days to increase worker productivity. Instead of becoming more productive people began to wilt and breakdown, quickly the 7 day order was restored.
We need to be aware of the fact that the marking of the years is very important for our psychological wellbeing. As we grow and mature, or go through seasons of suffering and hardship these delineations offer us the opportunity for respite and reflection. As well as looking back, the New Year also offers us the opportunity to engage with our hopes and dreams, regardless of how disappointed and pessimistic we may have become.
Depression feeds off of hopelessness, but we can use the New Year as an opportunity to renew hope. In doing this we must remember two essential caveats. The first is that we are on a journey with God, the hardships and failings of the past have been important in shaping your identity. They cannot and must not be expunged from your history in an attempt to assume a new identity. You cannot retain who you have become if you deny how you have become.
Equally holding on to your past too tightly can deny you the changes that you desire. Jesus is the Lord of new beginnings. Each time we come to him in prayer we are offered a fresh start, complete forgiveness and an opportunity to move forward. Becoming a new creation in Christ is the work of God’s salvation joined with our acceptance of his work. As you walk into 2008 you have an opportunity to reaffirm your faith in his ability to lead you into a new place this year. His heart is for you, make this your prayer: “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long”. Ps 25:5
Happy New Year