A New Year


New Year’s Day is the oldest of all known holidays celebrated in the world.  And it seems that people have been making (and breaking) resolutions since the beginning of time. 
New Year's is a holiday full of festive traditions.  Perhaps the most familiar are the parties, Watch Night services, and parades and college football!  It seems that New Year's is the perfect excuse for the gathering of crowds in public places, the ringing of bells and sirens, exploding of firecrackers, people toasting to the new year and singing "Auld Lang Syne," and the serving of black-eyed peas and collard greens! But one of most impressive things that happened on this New Year's Day was Georgia beating Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl!  Georgia will play Alabama on January 8 in Atlanta for an all-SEC National Championship against Alabama. 
I believe that New Year’s Day also offers us a threshold moment, a time to pause for reflection, celebrate and grieve what has gone before and listen to anticipate what lies ahead. New Year's Day is a time of renewal and starting over. The previous year has passed, the slate is “wiped clean” so to speak, and a New Year dawns before us with opportunity and promise. Thus for many people, resolutions become a way of starting over, of beginning again with some commitment or pledge to live a bit differently in the coming year.

If you’re like me, you tend to break your resolutions within the week.  After repeating the cycle of breaking resolutions year after year, it finally dawned on me that one of the reasons that our decisions fail is because we pile up our promises in our lives as if they were BOGOs (Buy One Get One Free).  But somehow we never consider that if we add something to our lives, something else has to change.  We have to let go of some time that we used to do something else, to make room to accomplish something new.

For instance, when I started playing basketball at Pine Street Elementary School with several other guys, I had to accept that I had the same amount time every Tuesday.  Playing ball didn’t change things, at least not in the beginning.  I was still busy, and it was difficult finding time to play basketball, especially during charge conference season. 

I used my busyness as an excuse, but my busyness was a form or security—being in control of things and not having to admit that I was scared of measuring up to someone else's notion of physical fitness.  I had to let go of something—well actually, a lot of things, including my way of thinking— to make time for basketball on Tuesday evenings in the future. 

I accepted the fact that we all have 24 hours in a day.  The difference is how we choose to use it.  I’ve realized that if I was not exercising now, this meant that the time that I could have been in the gym the improving my heart rate with cardio exercise, I was filling it with something else probably unhealthy.  I had to stop doing something old, to fit in a new thing.

The New Year’s holiday gives us a break, a threshold, a door to cross over so that we have a time-out to consider the things that are most important to us.  If we understood New Year’s Eve from this perspective, then maybe it would help us keep our resolutions since we will begin to see that the cycle of growth begins with letting go of old ways, a period for reflection that is followed by renewal. 
In observance of 2018, I’m making five resolutions instead of one!  Okay, so I confess that I’m hoping that by making time for more than one resolution, it gives me an out just in case I fall back into my habit of breaking the resolutions that I can’t keep.
For 2018, I resolve:

  1. To continue to listen to the stories of others.
  2. To keep life’s “threshold moments” in perspective; struggles are going to come. 
  3. To remember that it's not my job to set everybody “straight.”
  4. To look for opportunities to encourage a child, love a stranger, and to do something good for someone.
  5. To watch for answers to prayer, and remember to give thanks to God. 
Will you join me in keeping these resolutions? Will you check in on me from time to time to keep me honest?  I need the support.  What are your resolutions?  What will you have to give up to fulfill your resolution?  After all, New Year's Day is a threshold moment and fulfilling resolutions together.

On the Journey,

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