As we slide into 2023 (literally here in SLC as it has dumped a foot of snow today!), my social, tv and radio medias are burying me with the message of “a new year means a new you.” I have to admit that a “new me” sounds pretty good most days. I would love to be new! New hips and knees (mine ache a bit from age), new brain cells (I fear that they are depleting), new skin (how can I have acne and wrinkles at the same time?). The list goes on as not much is “new” in my 50 year old body, except of course, my new menopause symptoms (tired, curly hair, my squishy middle), and the new aforementioned aches and pains. Yeah, maybe those ads are on to something.
At the turn of each new year, we look back on the previous year (and woo boy the last few years have been a RIDE!) and place our hopes into the “new.” New year, new month, new season, new diet, new lifestyle, new clothes (my weakness-I love new clothes), whatever will entice us to sweep the old under ye ole proverbial rug and never speak of it again. But what’s that little phrase about history…oh that’s right: “those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” We have such a penchant for “new” in our country’s culture that we eschew anything older than a nanosecond. Fashion, media, vocabulary, cars, houses, and yes, even people. We instinctually know this and literally buy into the psychology of new for ourselves. Our old 2022 bodies aren’t good enough, our clothes are now outdated, as is our home, our job, relationships, etc. I, for one, have made many a new years resolution that I didn’t keep. I will eat less, exercise more, read more, work harder, be a better parent, finish my book (maybe this is the year?), whatever I think will make me new, make me over, make me into someone else.
But here’s what I’ve learned, I can’t be someone else, and neither can you. I don’t want to be someone else and I don’t want you to be someone else either. Yes, you, even if I have never met you. You see, God created you: you. Yes, you, with addictions, jiggly thighs, sacrastic sense of humor, offended easily, cry too much or not enough, laugh too loudly, take life too seriously, extravagant, cheap, detailed, visionary, tidy, messy, you. You are you and your only mission, purpose, is to be you, and to be the healthiest, grounded, integrated, whole, you as possible. And by the way, it’s not possible to be perfect. That’s part of being you, and me. If I tried to be totally new, I would leave behind all that I have learned about being me, being human, created in God’s own image that obviously includes being short with glasses. I would also leave you behind and all that I have learned about you and your humanity and divinity.
Maybe there is something that needs to change to make you healthier, able to engage in your precious sacred life more fully. I know for me, my red wine has to go. I don’t feel my best with it, so it’s not for me. Maybe there is something that isn’t for you, or working for you in your life, and yes, then that should shift. This isn’t about holding on to the old for the sake of the old, but it’s recognizing that new isn’t always better, new doesn’t equate with happiness, or joy or wholeness. The old you that you bring with you to 2023, has a lot of wisdom, grace, scars of learning, laugh lines, and all the love that fills you. This is the same love in which God created you, all of you. And yes, Jesus talks about making all things new, but this isn’t about erasing the past, or people, or you. The old is the foundation, the old you is from where you begin this new year and each new day. You bring your old self, and all your gifts, into the new moment for the sake of a you that grows, deepens, connects and loves. When we each come with our fullest old selves, there are indeed new possibilities for greater wholeness. If you tried to be new, someone else, you’re slicing away vital and necessary pieces of yourself that the world needs, that I need.
In this new year, I don’t want to be new, but more fully me. And I don’t want you to be new either, I want you to be you and for us to be fully in community with each other.
Here’s to a 2023 of connnection and building the beloved community based on the old, old story of divine love. Happy New Year beloved people!
*Also, many of you know that I choose a word for the year to ponder and live into. My word is “enjoy.” For me, this means finding joy in the mundane, the everyday and even in what I wouldn’t choose. What do you want to live into this year?