Happy new year, friends! My hope is that you had a truly special Christmas and that your new year is off to a good start. Sometimes we put so much pressure on the new year that when it actually comes, it has the same effect on our emotions as a much-anticipated birthday: we looked forward to it so much….but it came and went and nothing really changed. We’re still the same person we were beforehand, and nothing magically happened on that day to change anything.
That can be frustrating, and that’s where I have been so many times before. I like the idea of resolutions and goals for the new year, but rarely am any good at all in their actual execution. When I don’t immediately adopt new habits and see things improving, I lose motivation and any interest in pursuing the changes that had weeks before seemed critically important. Eventually, I quit altogether.
If that’s where you are today – tempted to throw in the towel already – take heart. Rejoice in the small beginnings, and know that nothing great was accomplished in a single day…or week…or even month. However, if what you’re doing – the things you’re trying – just aren’t working, give yourself permission to let it go without thinking of yourself as a failure. You’re not a failure if you keep moving in the right direction, even if your route has to change once or twice along the way.
I believe in giving things a good solid try but, when its obvious that they don’t work for me, I have to let them go. My approach to new years’ resolutions has never worked for me in the past, so this year I knew I had to try something new. Instead of starting something new for the new year, I’m choosing to lean into what God already began in me last year.
Over the past year or so, I have had a growing sense of changes happening within me. As changes often are, they weren’t dramatic or sudden, but rather were more like glacial shifts in my spirit. They probably weren’t even obvious changes to the people around me, and weren’t even clear to me until they had been happening for awhile.
The changes (which I’ll write more about soon – it’s far too much for one post) have been phenomenal, and have in a profound sense made me feel like a new person. I feel like the person I’ve always wanted to be but never thought was within my reach.
And because I know without a doubt that God has been working this incredible work in me, I know it’s not finished. I don’t think any work of God is ever truly complete, so as I moved from December 31st to January 1st, I wanted the tolling of a new year to symbolize my new resolve to lean in to the work God wants to accomplish in me.
With that in mind, I’ve chosen a word for my year, which I’ve never done before. To be honest, I think the word chose me. As soon as I even considered goals or resolutions or what-have-you for 2017, one word leapt to mind. And with it arose what has become my theme verse for this year:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. (Romans 12:2)
And there it is: renewal.
Renewal – (noun) the replacing or repair of something that is worn-out, run-down, or broken.
In short, renewal is the process of removing the things that just don’t work any more and replacing them with something that does. My friend, there have been so many things that just haven’t worked for me, and I’m finished trying to force it.
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. But if it is? Then by all means, do something about it.
And that’s what this year is about for me. God has begun a process of renewing me (which I realize actually began 13 years ago when Christ grabbed hold of my heart), and this year, I’m leaning in to what He’s doing and promising myself that I’ll do my part. When things don’t work, they’ll have to go.
Obviously there are exceptions, as some things just can’t and shouldn’t be removed from my life simply because they’re hard. But when they can? Or if they can be changed? They will be.
This year will be different, because I am different. By faith, I know, too, that by this time next year, I will be different than I am now. Praise God for His unending redemptive work.