“New Year, New You!”
“New Year, New You!” That was the tagline on an ad for a health club I saw recently. While I already belong to a gym, I admit I paused for a moment after reading that. I mean, I’m pretty good with the “old” me but a whole “new” one? Well, that’s pretty enticing.
What would the new me look like? I guess I’d start with the growth spurt that never really materialized in high school. 5’8” isn’t exactly gnome-like but when your 14-year-old son looks down on you by a full three inches you could use a slight boost.
I could also use some help with the hair that’s starting to thin just a bit on the crown of my head -- that would be nice. And don’t even get me started on my personality. Fork over a few hilarious stories I could regale people with at cocktail parties and maybe just a few points on the old IQ? I don’t need to be MENSA level but I’d love to wow friends and family with my ability to finish the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in record time.
Hey, as long as this is heading in the direction of a hybrid genie/Santa, I’ll be frank. I could use some extra cash. My life would be so much better if I could trade in the family mini-van for a Hummer. And I’ve always wanted a pied-a-terre in Paris.
It’s amazing to think a health club will be able to deliver a brand new me. Whatever the monthly fee, it’s surely worth it and, with my newfound wealth, I won’t even notice it.
This whole notion is, of course, ludicrous. It’s so easy to fall into the annual New Year’s trap: “I resolve that this will be the year everything changes and I become a better, more successful, healthier, wealthier person.” Yet every year, by about mid-January, you realize that you’re stuck with the same old you. Sure you might give up eating ice cream every night or maybe you’ve finally signed up for that ballroom dancing class you’ve always talked about. But when you look in the mirror, guess what? Same old you.
This isn’t meant to suck the resolve out of your resolutions. After all, New Year’s is a time brimming with opportunity and expectation. Maybe it’s the free-flowing champagne or the overpriced New Year’s Eve meal packages every restaurant seems to offer. Or perhaps it’s those annoying noise-makers or the ghost of Dick Clark (has he actually died yet? I can’t remember). But whatever the reason, the New Year feels different because it offers a fresh start, an opportunity for a new beginning, a clean break. Whatever the past has been, once that calendar switches over to January 1st, we can start anew. Right?
The problem is buying into this mentality means we view ourselves as essentially flawed. We forget that we have been created in God’s image and that God loves us for who we are -- blemishes and all. Sure, we’re all works in progress; human beings always are. But God loves the unfinished product. God loves the striving we do to live into our full potential as creatures of God.
So forget about the idea of an entirely “new you.” It’s important to remember we’re not trying to hide from the past but rather building upon it. The past, for better or worse, is a large part of who we are in the present. But we stand, with God’s help, ready to move on and to grow in new and exciting ways. Each day we are offered time with God, time with friends, and time with family. By treating each day with the spirit of New Year’s we can recapture the sense of excitement and wonder that comes from time spent in this holy and fruitful way.
Oh, and I just Googled it: Dick Clark died in April, 2012, in case you were wondering. In any case, Happy New Year!