A new beginning

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“New year, new you.”

Wouldn’t that be nice?

The idea of a blank page is definitely enticing.

Over the years I’ve become more wary of the New Year’s Resolutions concept. It seems that, more often than not, these lofty goals we set for ourselves in light of the new year fall flat by mid-February – if not before.

At the same time, I can’t deny that the idea is incredibly pervasive and attractive.

I think that’s because we do long for that – a new beginning.

We crave change, growth, newness.

We long for things to be better: our finances, our health, our relationships… New Year’s Resolutions are – I think – simply the most popular manifestation of this universal desire for a new beginning – a resurrection.

The challenge is that human nature is unhelpfully stubborn. Any change we accomplish is typically hard-earned over quite a bit of time.

Looking back over this year I wonder if I changed. It’s hard to say, really.

I went through a lot – externally there was a plenty of change.

But a new leaf isn’t as easy as moving to a different state. Especially when I reflect on the mistakes I made, the things I did that I’m not proud of (to say the least), the hurt I experienced… and caused.

Those things are hard to shake.

However, I think it is necessary that we do so. While I don’t think we should try to run away from our past or pretend it never happened, I think it is important that we don’t let it define us, that we see the potential for change and growth in ourselves.

Man have I messed up, big time. I’ve dropped the ball, loudly, and watched it fall a long, long way down.

I’ve hurt people I love, myself, I’ve said things I regret and can’t take back, I’ve done things that can’t be undone. I guess that’s the reality, you can’t really undo much once you’ve done it.

“It is finished.”

Do I want to? My instinct is yes of course, but then who am I to say all I’ve done isn’t somehow part of the plan? I think what I’ve done and all that I will do – good and bad – has already been accounted for.

“Everything is grace.”

I’m not sure. I don’t know if to be sorry for something is the same thing as regretting it.

Being sorry demands an apology.

What does regret demand? Taking it back… but you can’t.

I know that much. I also know we’re not bound by our past, by what has happened to us, by who we were last year or even yesterday. The seasons themselves prove that change is possible; just like the trees shed their leaves and then bloom again months later, so too, I think, we can let go of the past and begin anew. The only really necessary thing, is hope…and time.

I know I’m probably not dramatically changed from last year – but I think it’s impossible to look back and say I’m exactly the same. I think – if we allow it – our experiences are constantly teaching us, and we are continuously given opportunities to be even slightly different than who we were before… better.

We are made new.

In essence we remain the same, just like a tree doesn’t stop being a tree. But our choices, accompanied by the trappings of grace, can change us – over time.

I can’t look back and say I’m remotely proud of all I’ve done, and I’m sure there are people who would agree wholeheartedly that I have made poor choices – choices that affected others as much as myself.

But I also cannot be chained to them. I can, with Help, change the course and choose one that will help me arrive at my destination – a more loving, whole, and repentant person.

So, yes, I will make New Years resolutions – even though it is highly possible they be forgotten in a few weeks. But even more importantly, I do hope to grow more in 2019: to give more, to forgive more, to love more.

It is a new beginning. Not because it’s New Year’s but because any day can be one if you let the past be just that – the past, and accept the possibility that the path before you has not been set; rather, it is being made as you go, and you can change directions by simply moving your feet or asking for a little help if they get stuck.

I know I have made mistakes, and that I will continue to make them, but that won’t stop me from continuing on my crooked path, not knowing where it will lead me but trusting all the same.

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