Welcome to 2020, everyone! The first week of each new year usually brings hope and anticipation of change. It can also bring unfair expectations, self-doubt, and mourning for times gone by. “Happy New Year” can be joyous. It can also seem ironic.
New Year’s is a good time to remember that we are not saved by our own resolutions, nor are our lives ultimately governed by the passing of time. We are in greater hands than our own, and those hands give us love always.
Resolving to do better at some of life’s tasks is admirable. I hope you succeed in whatever you resolve! To the extent that pressure to achieve a standard causes you to feel inadequate, be assured that you are loved no matter what.
All of us fall short in ways we don’t comprehend. Society likes to pick out a few favorite ones, setting up impossible standards that nobody could meet. We make people who fall short of those standards our sacrificial lambs, suffering publicly so the rest of us can ignore our own shortcomings. Maybe the things our culture condemns us for aren’t really bad. Maybe the condemning itself is worse.
“New Year’s” time pressure is a weird thing too. We lament not being in romantic relationships, or not being where we want to be with other goals, as if this week mattered more to the cosmos than any other. The universe doesn’t know it’s 2020. The cosmos doesn’t count that way. Half of our planet doesn’t either! All moments are important to God. The idea that things aren’t real unless they happen right now is a conceit. That’s more about us trying to control the universe than us making the universe better as we come to understand our journey through it.
Time passes beyond us, but time also works for us. The end of our story is not darkness, but light. That ended does not ask what the numbers on a scale say, how much money we make, or who we smooched at midnight on January 1. It doesn’t worry about how old we’re getting either. That ending offers the assurance, “Come to me, all you who are burdened and in need of rest.” It promises reunion with loved ones and everything time has appeared to take from us. It offers new possibilities of love and acceptance beyond what the world has taught us.
As years and decades roll onward, remember that promise. Nothing you do can earn it. Nothing time does can take it away. It is yours, now and always, a gift from the One who loves you.