There are two ways of seeing the New Year that I would like to address: "New Year, New Me" – a promise of change and resolutions, and "It's been another year; why am I still here?" – a cry of the desolate.
"New Year, New Me"
After a long year, people often look ahead to the next and promise they'll be a better person. They set goals to leave the people in their lives who are hurting them and dragging them down, they decide they'll join the gym and go on a diet. They'll write that book they've always dreamed of writing, they'll donate to charities and spend more time with family. Endless promises to better themselves. And it's great that changes are desired and being made – or at least planned. . .
But why wait until the new year? Why do we lift this transition from one day to another with such glorification and promise? It's a significant moment, you may say, ending one year and going to the next; resetting the calendar. But why? It's just like any other day. No season has changed; life isn't magically reset giving you a clean slate.
Why do we fool ourselves into thinking it's the best time to change? Because of the holiday break and everyone else makes similar life-changing resolutions? When you go back to school or work, who is different? Who has completely turned their life around in a manner that would be impossible during any other break? I can't imagine there being many.
Why wait for this day when you could make that change any time? The toll of the bell at midnight on January 1st may not be able to clear your slate, but Jesus can – and He doesn't need to wait for some 'special day'.
Years ago, Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose again three days later. The moment His breath left His body, your slates were cleared – it's a gift not limited by time. Right now you can go to Him as ask to start anew; to pray for strength and begin your transformation (may I also point out that these changes take time. New Year or not.).
New Year can be a distraction from what God did for us. Go ahead and make plans for the 2016, but don't let that limit you. Don't sit around in August waiting the months to come to turn your life around. Jesus died so you could have this moment at any time and He will be with you every step of the way.
"It's been another year; Why am I still here"
This phrase is not one often heard aloud, but is found within the mind. Statistically, it is inaccurate to think that holidays are the days most prevalent for suicides or depression, but that does not mean it's a great time for everyone. For some, I feel that they look to the turn of the year and see it as a marker. A marker signifying merely another year of torture. New Year is a time of recollection and not everybody has the best memories to look back upon.
For those of you struggling, thank you for persevering. It wouldn't be the same without you, especially in this holiday season. You're a trooper and I love you.
Perhaps, to reduce the fear, confusion, emptiness, you can look to Jesus for comfort, but in a different way than above. Or maybe the same, but if that's too hard, why not just dwell in the presence of the Lord and weep in His arms? Look upon all the battles you have fought and survived. The war is not over but with God you have the winning hand.
To me, God never gets tired of this. He loves the quality time and comforting. Some may think it's selfish to wallow in grief and personal angst over this Christmas and New Year season, but didn't Jesus come to the earth for you? Spending time with Him, trusting in Him, opening up to Him... those are all things He treasures. That's why God sent Jesus – so He could have a relationship with you and you could go to Him time and time again. That, in essence, is praising Him, is it not?
For those of you with friends or family having a hard time, I suggest that rather than simply pointing to the New Year as a promise of hope and new life, comfort and appreciate them and try to distract them from the dark thoughts of another year brooding. Maybe they just need your love, to know perhaps that even though you may not understand, you're still grateful and open your arms. Partying isn't the only form of celebration in festive times; hearts, too, can rejoice and bond, even in woeful days.
Happy or sad, young or old, I wish you all the best over this holiday season. Whether you're with people or alone, don't forget Jesus and His heart for you. Remember the real reason for the season – not just His physical birth, but what that means and how His life and love trump the New Year.
Sabrina is studying English and History at the University of Canterbury, where she is a member of Christian Union. She has a passion for youth, art, reading, and writing with aspirations to become a teacher.
Sabrina Meyer's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sabrina-meyer.html