Why I'm Not a Fan of New Years
A truth I must confess to you is that I do not like the celebration of a new year, specifically the celebration on New Year’s Eve. I know, this is a terrible confession. New Years is part of this wonderful holiday season, right? We even lump our festive well wishes together when we say: “Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”. How could I not like New Years?
It’s not that I dislike parties. I love getting together with friends and family. In fact, I would consider my friends and family the sort who look for excuses to throw parties more often than we need to. I remember in the past year attending a birthday party for the dog of our close friends… they had about fifteen of us over! It was hilarious and enjoyable. I like parties.
What I don’t like is how often New Years is a time associated with resolutions and commitments. For years now I have avoided the gym in the month of January because it is by far the busiest time all year! Why? Because at New Years countless people make the resolution to get in better shape, so they join a gym, get to it in January, fizzle out by February and pay for a gym membership the rest of the year without using it… all the while adding the burden of guilt every time they think “I really should go to the gym, after all, I’m paying for it.”
Please don’t misunderstand me. I fully support people getting into better shape. I fully support people making commitments that cause them to manage their lives, health, vocation and family with more wisdom or intentionality. There are two main issues I have with this, let’s see if I can convince you.
The first issue I have is simply the association these resolutions have with New Years. We should all continually examine our lives and our relationships to see what can be improved and how we might be causing ourselves or others harm. That’s a GOOD practice. Why do we wait until New Years to do this? By officially crowning New Years as the time in the calendar to make self-improvements we sort of shrug off our continual responsibility to live our lives intentionally, honestly and with good work ethic (in all areas, not just vocational work). What’s worse, is that associating these resolutions with a specific time of year inadvertently puts a timer on it. Just like at the gym, when I begin to predict when the “resolution people” will start to fade away, as the hype and excitement wear off, so does our resolve to follow through on the commitments we’ve made.
The second, and perhaps more important issue that I have with New Years resolutions, is that they almost always tend to be physical, tangible goals. This isn’t always a bad thing. Perhaps your greatest physical need is to get healthy, or to quit smoking (isn’t that the same thing?) or to lose weight.
What we often forget is that we are NOT simply physical beings. As humans, I believe we are made up of both our material/physical selves and our immaterial/spiritual selves. Along with the immaterial comes mind, will, emotions. Many of us allow our emotions to dictate how we behave rather than our minds… why don’t we make resolutions that solve THAT problem? Many of us love things we ought to hate, and hate things we ought to love… why aren’t we scrambling for help on that issue?
I have a suggestion. Why not use this rather flawed form of commitment making to do something truly meaningful? Perhaps you can commit to getting the ‘immaterial you’ sorted out in 2016. As a pastor, I can assure you, it’s not something you can complete in a year, but it’s worth beginning.
The most important questions to answer whenever we take a look inside is not, “how long will it take me to lose three inches, or why haven’t I learned to play the guitar yet?” It’s, “what’s the meaning of life? Is this world all there is? Is there a God and if so, how does that affect how I live my life?”
I believe there are answers to those questions, and as much as I’d love to help you sort them out, what I’d like even more right now is just to have you convinced they are questions worth asking. Take some time to really examine what your life might be missing, because if we focus on the physical we are only bettering things that are temporal. If instead you spend time sorting out some spiritual matters, the results can be eternal.