It's truly awesome that every day can be New Year's Day. Each moment can be a New Year's moment. But because people celebrate the beginning of a new year each Jan. 1, one would believe that day was the only time one could start over.
If you've ever been rejected, overlooked for a promotion or lost a loved one, it can be life-saving to realize the ordeal will eventually end. Something will occur to help you resume living anew. All this is possible because Jesus was born on Christmas Day, died on Good Friday and rose at Easter so that we can rise and start again, many times. The new physical and spiritual life that Jesus promised to those with little hope is a reality for everyone. Regardless of how dreary circumstances seem, there is always new life awaiting you if you have faith that a brighter future lies ahead.
Becky lost her husband of many years. Even though she now lives in a new duplex and has freedom to do as she pleases, she doesn't enjoy life. "Nothing is enjoyable without Jim," she says. Many who have lost spouses and others feel that life is not worth living without them. The same outlook can occur if a person loses a job he enjoys and depends on. He feels his identity is lost. Even he doesn't know who he is.
However, looking forward to a new and more joyous day has to be a conscious choice. Seldom does happiness happen without effort. Living in the past, looking at what might have been or dwelling on misfortune is wasted time.
One has to make up one's mind to make the best of every day. Many times, the people who have everything the world says is worthwhile are the most miserable. They fail to see that regardless of what they have, who they know or what skills they possess, new beginnings can't materialize without exerting some effort. Having faith in a better tomorrow allows you to realize that only God can bring true satisfaction, wealth and security.
Whether our New Year's resolution is to lose weight, attend church more often, be a better parent, get a new job or save money, none of those pledges is important if we chase the wrong dream. You must first love and believe in the nearness and caring of God, then love yourself and other people. That's what Jesus asks. "Love God with your whole heart, your whole mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:17)
Making pledges each year to do better or change is a good thing, but you need not believe that you must wait until Jan. 1 to make the attempt. Any day of the year can serve the same purpose. Whether your turn around is personal or it involves others. Remember that it's never too late to help make the Kingdom of Heaven happen right here on earth by your charitable attitudes and the way you love and treat other people. If losing weight, getting a new job or whatever your goal happens to be genuinely helps you become a better human being, then try to make your intentions a reality -- any minute, hour, day or year.
Remember that Jesus told Christians "I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) In other words, you can have a new and better life any time if you do what is necessary to attain it. Each day can be a new day, and one can, indeed, always start over. By all means make a new beginning this New Year's Day, but don't wait for another year to start all over again.
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.