I confess. I hate the New Year. I know. I mean, plenty of people hate Christmas for whatever reason– bad memories, family drama, too much commercialism, loneliness– and even those of us who love Christmas can kind of understand it. I mean, who of us hasn’t secretly felt a bit of sympathy for Ebenezer Scrooge before he is visited by the three ghosts, or for the Grinch before he falls into the clutches of a cute little Who named Cindy Lou? (side note: Today Squeezy informed me that she wants to grow her hair down to her legs so that we can style it like Cindy Lou Who’s hair. Heh.) Anyway, my point is, that most of us can at least sort of understand people who aren’t crazy about Christmas, but who hates New Year? Who even has an emotional response to it?
I’ll tell you who. It’s me. I. Whatever. English is a twit language.
I have been thinking about this the last few days and trying to figure it out, and I think I have. The New Year is a calendar of blank squares– a whole blank book of white pages waiting to be written over. And I am a coward. I am afraid of messing it up. I would rather not start at all than start and make a mistake and fail and have a mess in my blank book of pretty white pages.
When I was a young girl, a friend of my mom’s gave me a blank book. Not a notebook, but a real book with a binding and a hard cover and hundreds of pure white pages. I loved it but it terrified me. It literally took me years to write anything in it. I was afraid I would ruin it. I have dishes I have been saving for “the opportune moment” and clothes that my children only wore once and then outgrew because I was “saving” them and food that I have had to throw away because I was holding onto it for a special meal, and I wear my favorite t-shirt the least often and my least favorite the most often and all of it because I’m afraid of ruining things.
Things do get ruined. I mean, Squeezy had this adorable pair of striped pants this past fall that I loved, and the second time she wore them she played in the dirt and stained the backside and then the fifth time she wore them she somehow got a huge rip in them and then I had to throw them away. So I use this kind of example as a reason to not let her wear half her cute clothes or to keep that pretty-smelling candle in the cupboard and not burn the darn thing. I know I’m not alone in this. But it took me 36 New Years to figure out that this is the same reason why I really kind of hate the New Year.
It always seems that everyone knows exactly what they want to do with themselves in the new year– lose weight or be more frugal or be more generous or read more books or cook more food from scratch or learn a new skill or whatever. And then there’s me. January 1st comes along and I just really want to sleep in and maybe have some pie. I don’t want to make a million resolutions I know I’ll break, and I don’t want to think about all the ways I am likely to fail during the next year.
I don’t want to be the one to write “failure” in thick sharpie letters on every page of my blank book. So I ignore the fact that I’ve been handed this empty year as a gift. I put it on the shelf and eye it warily and occasionally take it out and flip through it, maybe even hold a pencil over its first page, and then I panic and put it back on the shelf and walk away. If I write “pray more often” or “be a better friend” on that page, and then tomorrow I forget (again) to pray and I am insensitive to a person I love, well, I might as well as scribble failure on every page, right? Better to just leave it blank.
The trouble is that it doesn’t really work that way. The book won’t stay blank even if I don’t write it in. The New Year has begun, and whether or not I decide to seize the opportunity of a blank slate and fill it up with words and dreams, it will tell a story on December 31st. Most of the parts of that story are still a complete mystery to me, no matter what I write on my calendar.
I have goals for this year, but I haven’t sat down and written out resolutions. I probably won’t. Last year I made several and as far as I can remember I didn’t keep a single one of them. The one thing I did succeed at was losing weight, but that was not a New Year’s Resolution; it was a random decision I made on a Wednesday night after kids’ club. I’m not convinced of the power of resolutions that are made just because it’s the thing to do.
This morning I was reading in Kay Arthur’s book Lord, Teach Me to Pray in 28 Days about what it means to hallow God’s name. To hallow means to set apart as holy or special, and when we hallow God’s name we are setting it apart as something precious. Kay gives a list of the names of God and their meanings, and it resonated with me. What if I were to hallow– to set apart– one special name of God to ponder and study and meditate on this year? What if, instead of focusing on my bad habits or my own failures, I asked God to meet me as Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord Who Provides, or El Roi, the God Who Sees?
What if, instead of me, I made 2014 about Him?
It seems to me that regardless of what is written on the blank pages of Erin, 2014 Edition, it would be hard to go wrong that way. Because with Him as my focus, when I look back at the book of my year, I will see His hand on all the pages.
And maybe next year I’ll be brave and actually resolve to do something.