Honestly, New Year’s has never been my favorite holiday.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m a bah humbug who can’t appreciate a little festivity.
Take Christmas; as far as I’m concerned, it begins somewhere in September when I joyfully revisit my Rockin’ Holiday Hits channel on Pandora and start strolling into work singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I’ve been known to put up my tree November 1st (What! Too early?) and get downright giddy at the sight of Christmas lights. I bake thousands of cookies every year and spread them around like a manic baked goods fairy.
And Thanksgiving, O Thanksgiving! The family gathered together ’round the table. Planning and cooking a feast for three days. And what a feast it is in our foodie family! Deviled eggs, 3 types of Salami, and an ocean of cheese! Checkerboard stuffing, brie in the mashed potatoes, and white wine reductions in the gravy. Rum cake, pumpkin cheesecake, and pecan pie. Now there’s a holiday I can really get behind.
Even Easter, with its celebration of rebirth fills me with hope. He is risen, Hallelujah, so we can have new life in Christ is the cry of Christians around the world as trees burst forth blooms in celebration. I don’t scoff at all those lovely chocolate filled Easter basket either, no sir.
Yes, I can appreciate a holiday.
But New Year’s? Strip away the fireworks, that elusive midnight kiss, and overindulging in champagne, and what’s the point of New Year’s? What are we celebrating really? A fresh start, a new you, and those dreaded resolutions…<<shudder>>.
Maybe, you say, that doesn’t sound bad at all. A new me, Kate? How grand! I could do with a fresh start. I hear you. I’m downright sick of my crap, myself. I’d love a squeaky clean slate and a new attitude.
The problem is, New Year’s has never delivered on any of its promises.
For a while, every year was finally going to be the year I ate less and exercised more, whined less and appreciated more, worked less and strolled in the sun more, cussed less and blessed more. I was going to keep my house a little cleaner, read my bible every day, spend my money a little more wisely, and finally organize that dreaded hall closet.
My intentions were good, my will-power strong, my mind made up. Each year, I was determined, ya’ll. Yet, each year, I would ride that glorious wave of new me for an embarrassingly shorter and shorter time. Picture me cross-legged on the floor of the kitchen the night of January 2nd crying and cussing while eating hand-fulls of frozen Christmas cookies from gallon zip-locked bags pulled from the depths of the freezer. That’s about how far my determination to live differently carried me.
So, at some point in my late 20’s, I just gave it up: the hope of a fresh start, the practice of making resolutions, the dream that in a New Year I’d be anything better than the same old issue laden Kate. I stopped pretending that the woman who woke up January 1st was going to be anything else than the bitter, mouthy, undisciplined lady who laid her head down to the sound of fireworks the night before.
The thing is, I had no faith in my ability to transform myself. And for good reason; I don’t have it in me. Seriously.
Call me lazy, call me weak, call me apathetic or even pathetic. I won’t fault you. I’ve accused myself of all that and more. Still, no amount of stern talkings-to from my inner voice has spurred me on to lasting change.
So I haven’t made a New Year’s resolution in a decade and last night was no different; I snuggled down under the covers last night without a single plan for the New Year. I woke early this morning to a quiet house- my daughters and my husband slept in after the late night and I had the living room to myself for my morning God-time.
As usual, I began by writing out a prayer in my journal, “Good morning, Daddy. It’s 2017. A new year. New Year has never excited me much. I guess that’s because I have no trust in my ability to make a fresh start. Like a dog returns to its vomit, I return to eating too much, wasting time on useless things, over working and losing my temper. My only hope for change and healing, for a true fresh start, is you.”
Then I opened up the bible app on my phone and saw the verse of the day- a favorite- Isaiah 43:19.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. ~Isaiah 43:19
Suddenly I was flooded with hope. I may not be able to create any lasting change in myself but God can. Not only that, He has. Time and time again in my life, God has swooped in and done what I considered impossible, what I could never do on my own. He has healed my bitter heart, sanded down the rough edges of my tongue, pried me from the stranglehold of addiction, taught me to love my children, repaired my relationship with my father, filled my needy heart, and made me into a new woman. I am not who I once was.
I have, at my disposal, the renewing power of the Holy Spirit enabling me to live in freedom and experience deep down heart change. And, if you know Jesus, you do too!
Even better, we don’t have to wait until January 1st! We have a chance at a fresh start every day. Shoot, every minute. Any time you turn to Christ instead of the flesh, you are handed a fresh slate.
With the Lord, we can experience a constant New Year’s day. One that delivers on each and every promise. Hallelujah!
Happy New Year!