(Photo by Stephanie Desmond)
Re-Embrace the New Year WithOUT the New Me Mentality
By Megan Luebberman
As soon as December rolls around, the “new year, new me” saying appears all over social media. People suddenly become determined to begin anew. They commit themselves to gym memberships, start inventive diets and exercise regimens, and decide to break their bad habits. These endeavors begin with zeal and dedication, but gradually wane over the course of the entire new year. A great deal of the resolutions don’t last past 6 months, though studies show that 8% of individuals do keep their resolutions throughout the entire year. Even so, this “new year, new me” mentality may be a bit off.
In the Bible, there are many verses about how Jesus makes us a new creation through His sacrifice on the cross. He died for our sins, wiping our guilty slates clean. We have a new life in Jesus and must try to live our best lives for Him. Ephesians 4:22-24 states:
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
The process of growth and renewal starts as soon as you give your life over to Christ. God gradually changes your character to be more holy and Christ-like. However, He needs your willingness to do so, and will only sanctify you if you let Him. God doesn’t ‘wait’ for the new year to begin, He creates His own perfect timing for the events and changes in your life. However, Christians are also supposed to remember the urgency of the faith. In Romans 13, Paul urges the brethren to love one another and turn away from their evil acts. In verse 11, he emphasizes:
“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”
Essentially, the time to change is now. One does not have to wait until the new year; one simply has to wait upon the Lord in all things. The process of personal growth is a life-long journey, and true change comes from the Father. Willpower will only get you so far. Growth comes through many trials. Faith and perseverance are key.
In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Paul encourages the brethren again in declaring:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
A focus on God truly empowers a determination to change. Whether it be challenging health goals, spiritual needs, or simply difficult life events–God can help you grow through it all. He is there to support you in all that life brings. In many ways, it is a race of faith until the end. Some portions of life will go by in a flash, while others seem to edge by slowly. In each season, God has something to teach. Hebrews 12:1-2 encapsulates this race of faith well:
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Again, the focus on Jesus is essential. He is the one that enabled us in the first place. He lends us His power to go through this life as a conquer over all things (Romans 8:37). Endurance is needed to get through the trying parts of life, but God equips us with the tools to get through every trial (1 Corinthians 10:13). Our hardships can be what God uses to instill growth in us as people.
For example, the Bible refers to the ‘refiners fire’ which purifies God’s children of impurities (1 Peter 1:7). Like a metal going through the flames of a furnace, Christians are purified by hardships. It is often the hardest parts of life that produce the most spiritual fruit. It’s stated in Isaiah 48:10:
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”
This struggle with self-growth and renewal is all the more impactful with the Almighty God on your side, and this process starts now. The New Year can be a good marker of when to start better habits, but growth truly begins as soon as you willingly give in to God. This choice leads to the ultimate feeling of fulfillment, as you chase God and His image for your life. James 1:12 talks about the benefits of persevering with God, pronouncing:
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Remember to center your self-growth around God, the One who oversees all things. He knows your flaws better than you yourself. He desires for you to come to Him humbly asking for help. No matter the circumstance, He is there to provide. And if you get tired at any point in life’s journey of growth, recall Isaiah 40:31:
“But those who wait on the Lord. Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”