It’s January 4, 2023! It’s a new year.
I’ve always liked the transition from one year to another. It brings a sense of change. The old is gone — 2022 — and the new has come — 2023. It’s a time for fresh starts, new routines, a new set of goals to accomplish. And, for an optimist like me, it’s a welcomed relief.
Now, we all know that the past doesn’t go away. Most, if not all of the challenges we faced in the previous year stick with us. They follow us into the new year. Our health scares are still with us. Our tense family relationships are still here. Our vices still pull on us. And, the consequences of our sin must still be dealt with. However, 2023 brings an opportunity to us — an opportunity for change, for growth, for forgiveness, for repentance, for maturity, for disciplined lives. We don’t have to be trapped by our pasts, whether they are good or bad. We can change. First, by the grace of God. Second, by faith and repentance. Third, by choices and behaviors. This is what makes New Year’s Resolutions so popular around the globe (a practice that some historians argue goes back to the ancient Babylonians).
The more cynical of us will say, “What’s the point in making New Year’s Resolutions if I’m just going to break them in six weeks?” We’ve all been there. We’ve all started strong on a new health routine, a plan for spiritual growth, or a determination to break a bad habit. My gym will be packed for the next 6-8 weeks with all those who have determined that 2023 is the year that they’re going to drop that pesky 10-20 pounds and get in better shape. By March, a significant percentage of them will stop coming and I’ll be able to use the machines and weights at my normal leisurely pace. But, does that failure to establish a new lasting habit mean that they wasted their time in January and February? No. if nothing else, they got two good months of exercise that they wouldn’t have had they not made the New Year’s resolution to start going to the gym. Those two months were better than nothing.
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I think they are good for our overall health and lifestyles. For example, this year, I want to be more present with my family and our congregation, so I have logged off social media. It drains my energy and traps me to my phone as I’m constantly checking to see what the latest political or theological battle is taking place on twitter, or what kind of silliness I can find to numb my brain on Instagram reels. Also, as a family, we want to be more encouraging and grateful of each other and other people, so we have committed to writing more notes and sending more appreciative text messages.
I think the key to a good New Year’s resolution is to take a positive instead of a negative approach. Often we think negative things that we want to change about ourselves because we don’t like them. However, that approach is not beneficial to long-term change. It’s far better to settle on a version of who you or your family wants to be and then make the changes to become that person or family. A common example is: instead of saying, “I want to lose 20 lbs because I don’t like the size that I am now,” say, “I want to be healthier physically so I will get serious about having a better diet and being more active with the goal of dropping 20 lbs.” That way you have a goal to work toward without getting discouraged if you don’t achieve it quickly. The same is true for our spiritual and mental growth too.
So, I ask you, “Who do you want to be moving forward? What do you need to change in order to become the man, woman, or family that God has called you to be for his glory?” Prayerfully determine that and then make the necessary changes in your life while relying on the grace of God and his strength to change you from the inside out.
Have a great new year!