“New year, new me!” We all know these words. We all say them, even if not out loud. The new year brings a new hope. A new hope for things to be gained, and a new hope for things to be left behind. A fresh date that can you refer to as the year that you changed. Yet we all know change is not that simple.
Every year people make resolutions for the new year, but it has become somewhat of a joke. By even the second or third week, many of us are burnt out. Sure we could make a “Mid-January" Resolution, but that doesn't have the same ring. Even the most upright people fail occasionally. None of us can bear the burden of being perfect every single second for the rest of the year, let alone the rest of our lives. It is an impossible goal, and it is a recipe for regret.
Suppose I set a resolution to be less defensive (Heaven knows that should make my resolution list). But also suppose that on day seven someone makes a comment that rubs me just the wrong way, and I blow up in their faces. Is my 2017 is ruined? Should I abandon this goal entirely? By no means! Rather I should start my goal anew. As Paul once put it, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” (Phil. 3:13, ESV). We should not spend our lives focusing on our failures. Rather we should spend them focusing on the new opportunities we have to avoid those same mistakes.
When we focus on our failures, it gets depressing. When I look back on all the times that I have fallen into the same habitual traps time and time again, I can self-shame myself into a rather frightening state-of-mind. I do not want this for me; I do not want this for anyone. Yes, when we mess up we need to apologize and make it right with people we may have wronged. But after that, we need to move on. There is no use torturing yourself over and over again in your mind about what you should have done. I always hear stories cautioning me not to “rest on my laurels,” meaning that simply because I have succeeded once, I cannot spend the rest of my life doing nothing. Just as a past success cannot define my life, a past failure cannot define it either.If we are not focusing on our past, what can we focus on? Well there is our present, but more importantly our future. While vowing to not make a mistake the entire year is unrealistic and unwise, we can still set goals for how we want to be in the future. And even if we mess up again down the road, we should not let that discourage us. The beginning of a new year is not the only time you are allowed to move on from past mistakes.