“New year, new you.”
We hear that phrase a lot this time of year. It’s a new month in a new year and we tend to get excited about all this newness. If you’re a resolution person like me, these are the days when we are working really hard to stick with all those plans we made for a new us in this new year.
But after everything we’ve been through in the last few years, I’d like to offer an alternative to the “new year, new you” concept (because, really, who needs all that pressure?). I’m beginning to think that we don’t need to be “new,” we just need to be us.
The Bible tells us that when God created humanity, God made us good. We read that at the very beginning of the book. But much later in the book, way over in the middle of the New Testament, this idea is reiterated. The Bible says that we are God’s masterpieces, that God delights in us.
So God made us good at the outset, and even with all the plot twists God still thinks we’re pretty great (quick aside: God loves us — most of us have heard that — but God also likes us).
The problem, though, is that our inherent, original goodness gets buried under all sorts of other stuff: family roles, comparisons with other people, societal expectations, cultural definitions of success; not to mention times when we do screw up and all the accompanying baggage with that.
We throw all those layers on top of our inherent goodness and pretty soon we forget who we are underneath it all. We forget that at our core we are humans who are loved (and liked) by God, and not for any reason except that God made us. We are loved exactly as we are.
So instead of adding on all sorts of things to be new (diet plans, exercise, financial goals, words of the year), maybe we should practice off-loading all sorts of things to get back to who we ultimately are. As we peel back all the layers that have been heaped on top of our original identity, we can learn to be us again.
If we could do this — off-load the fear of judgement, or the tyranny of other peoples’ opinions or the boxes in which others have placed us — and unearth who we really are, it would probably feel like a new you in a new year. But it wouldn’t be a new you; it’d just be you, living into your identity as a person loved by God.
That’s not to say that we’re all perfect; there are certainly things that we could all benefit from cultivating in our life, like more love, more generosity and more concern for those who are less fortunate. But those aren’t prerequisites to God’s love; they are responses to it.
Forget “new year, new you.” Just be you, living into your identity as a person God loves.