Dear New Year

By Jane Highley

Dear New Year:

Thanks for coming, not that I didn’t think you would. It’s not like the apocalyptic fears that people had about Y2K. I’m grateful that you didn’t usher in a new decade with a blizzard due to a polar vortex.  Even though it’s cold, it’s been a mild winter thus far. It’s nice to enjoy the sun while I’m running.

And speaking of running, I haven’t made any resolutions. I don’t have a mileage goal, a weight-loss goal, a reading goal, or a major-project goal. Are you disappointed? I also did not choose a word for the year, nor do I have a mantra to repeat in 2020. If you are already giving me the “side-eye” of disdain and have concern for my lack of motivation, I don’t blame you. I applaud those who set goals, however lofty they may be. I wish I could be so inspirational.

But I have two very good reasons why I am “goal-averse” on this first day of the New Year. I just finished an intense graduate program a month ago; that was a long academic marathon that demanded so much from me and my family for the past two years. I am grateful for the intellectual gains, but even more relieved that it is over. Another reason is that I am afraid to fail. If I have any doubt of success in an endeavor, I am more likely to not try at all. And so, with the bright promise of new-year potential beckoning for me to establish resolutions, I already feel worn out from goal-setting and handicapped by the pressure of future failures.

But how can I be a person of faith if I neglect its founder and perfecter, Jesus Christ? I am short-sighted when I think of all that I would like to have accomplished by December 31, 2020. Before any list of resolutions makes its way onto my wall or journal, perhaps the precursor to such list-making is to recalibrate my intentions toward Christ. Rather than think of my failures, why not shift the focus to Christ’s triumph over death?

He declared an unmatched victory at the empty tomb. Such proof of enduring love to sinners like me (and readers like you) is the most satisfying win for which we can never take credit, and “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:13). Christ’s fullness of grace completely pays for the stubbornness of sin. With His grace upon grace in mind, will I ring in the New Year with 20 shiny goals for 2020? If I do and fail miserably to achieve any of them, I will have lost nothing and gained the more desperate acceptance that I am a sinner saved by grace through faith, not by feeble, human effort (Ephesians 2:8-9).