How to Make This Year Different

New Year's Day has come and gone and whether you declared a new year's resolution or not, the coming of a new year always brings with it a certain, unexplainable hope. On New Year’s Eve, as I count down to midnight, everything appears to happen in slow motion. As everyone in the room begins to count down from ten as loud as they can, I always take a moment to stop and scan the room. I look at my friends and family one by one, all smiling, and can't help but feel that beautiful hope bubbling up inside of me. As the clock strikes midnight, the confetti shoots up into the air and shimmers all around me. Everyone yells, laughs, and hugs, and it makes me feel as though from that point forward something in my life is going to be different. Although the start of a new year always brings with it so much hope and enthusiasm, the days and weeks to follow are often far from what I anticipated.

I hoped the new year would be different. I hoped I would become "better" this year. I hoped I would finally, for once, live up to the high expectations I had set for myself. Ultimately, I just hoped for change. 

"New year new me," I hear my friends saying; but yet, the older I get, the more I notice my friends abandoning the idea of declaring a new year's resolution. It seems that the once exciting feeling that accompanied the new year has taken the hope for a “new me” and transformed this holiday into an opportunity to capture an Instagram-worthy photograph.

If the new year once brought so much hope, why are we now giving up on our resolutions before we even make them?

Well, I'm no expert, but rumor has it that humans learn best through repetition. Rumor also has it that the older we get, the more New Year's Eves and New Year's Days we get the chance to live through. By my calculations, this means that as we age, we increase the number of times we have repeated this silly new year ritual: 

  1. Make a resolution

  2. Feel the magic

  3. Countdown to midnight

  4. Struggle to make the changes we resolved to make (insert comparison and feelings of failure)

  5. Lose the magic

  6. Give up

While some of us continue to be tricked by the coming of the new year, others have experienced this repetitive failure one too many times. For those people, the disappointment has burrowed its way into our brains and fooled us into believing we can outsmart the new year by simply avoiding the silly ritual altogether. I mean, the hope for a "new me" simply doesn't exist anymore, right? 

The simple truth is that the coming of the new year does NOT bring change simply because we resolve that it will; and avoiding the new year's resolution process does NOT keep us from failing to transform our lives. 

 Even so, that is not to say you are forever going to be entombed by your shortcomings. The circumstances of your life do not dictate who you are or who you are becoming. There is absolutely hope for a healthier, happier, and more productive you. Although this hope is not found merely by turning the calendar from a page that says, "2018" to a page that says, "2019," it is found just as easily. To receive the hope and transformation we are longing for, all we have to do is look to the only true Redeemer. The writers of Scripture tell us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that there is undoubtedly hope for a new you… 

 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here."

The coming of the new year may not bring with it endless hope, but Jesus sure does! As the cold and lonely days of January evolve into an even icier February, committing to change has likely fallen off most of our priority lists. By now, many of us have already either stumbled with our resolutions or given up completely. Even those of us who chose not to make a resolution have likely faced the very feelings we were trying to avoid in choosing to sidestep resolutions in the first place. Although most of our new year hopes fell to the ground faster than the confetti and champagne corks did, Creator God has not given up on us. 

Jesus is our Hope and Savior, and by pursuing Him, we become transformed by Him. As sure as 2018 has passed and 2019 has arrived, the old you has gone, and the new you is here! Jesus is the only One who can transform our lives. But we can’t just sit in a room and wait—we have to participate! In order to experience life-altering transformation we must be willing to participate with Jesus and have the courage to take that first step.

This year let’s all take a step together by actively shifting our focus from what I need to change to what God has the power to change. By doing this, God will allow our "new focus" to generate a “new me” and finally lift the burdensome weight that the "new year new me" mentality has dropped on us year after year. By shifting our focus, we can finally break the cycle of that silly new year ritual, and ultimately, allow God to transform our lives! 

If you are feeling down on yourself today for skipping the gym, eating 3 cupcakes, or accidentally taking a 5-hour nap instead of doing your homework, it is time to give yourself a break. When you feel like giving up or that you will never achieve the change you desire, remember to Whom you belong. Although our failures and shortcoming paralyze us, these infinitesimal missteps are certainly no match for our All-Powerful God. In these times, remember His hope, remember His power, and remember His Promise.

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6

 By trusting in God’s plan and continuing to take next steps, God will transform our lives and provide the “change” we have sought for so long. Instead of concerning yourself with new year’s resolutions, consider reflecting on what God might have you do and what first step he is calling you to take. Ask yourself, “How can I participate with Jesus in the transforming work He wants to do in my life this year?” God can and will transform your life into one filled with peace, comfort, and fulfillment… all you have to do is let Him.