Keep your faith in the new year

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Encarta Dictionary describes the word Grinch as "somebody who ruins enjoyment, somebody grouchy and contrary who spoils the fun of others."

People have various opinions on how to regard the upcoming year. There's often the question on how the new year should be celebrated or if it should be acclaimed at all.

If you're Christian, you certainly believe in honoring the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas, but the question of how to best accomplish that goal varies.

Commercialism surrounding New Years', too, often overshadows the greater purpose of starting a new life phase by accomplishing desired goals.

A new year can be a time to re-evaluate your life. Many take advantage of the meaning and use the holiday as the prelude to a new beginning, while others are like the Grinch.

Despite beneficial resolutions, a Grinch can spoil the holiday for everyone with his nasty, mean outlook on the whole scene.

Making New Year's resolutions, in particular, remains a testy subject. Fortunately a lot of people continue to believe that the upcoming year can be a blessing to them.

Those individuals attempt to review their past year and what has transpired in their life. Then they contemplate what needs to change or be continued, and they learn new strategies to better themselves.

With pencil and paper in hand, one makes lists of what he or she needs to do to make life better.

One popular resolution is to lose weight. Rather than tackling the goal in a modest, well-paced fashion, Grinches often rush to accomplish a project far too quickly and erratically.

As most people are aware, nothing worth accomplishing comes easily. Due to his lack of thought and desire to solve his problem instantaneously, he fails and his self-esteem suffers. He vows to never make another New Year's resolution. Then that Grinch passes his attitude along to everybody else who believes in the new year.

The mean spirited person says, "Trying to change every year is hogwash," and tells believers that he "never makes such promises because he knows he'll backslide anyway." Those efforts contained little research or insight.

Don't listen to those who discourage your belief that it's possible to make a new beginning, to know that the past has gone; the future is yet to come, but the present is at your door step. Indeed you can eagerly start a new life.

What a wonderful feeling to know that one needs to never give up. We've all heard the saying, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

As sure as each breath we take is a new one, the same holds true for new beginnings. It's never too late to start anything over.

Even though you may have injured your health or another area, you can keep from adding to the problem by forsaking your weakening habits. Even a small bit of improvement can make a positive difference -- but refusing to change can add to the damage you've already incurred.

One word of discouragement from a modern day Grinch can shatter the best of your resolve; so stay away from such companionship. Square your shoulders, stride ahead and remember that God is always by your side.

When people tell you that New Year's is just another day, no different from the one before it, refuse to believe them but instead say. "I can all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)

Despite how you choose to usher in the new year, it's what you do with it that counts. You can party, watch a movie or even go to bed, but don't forget it is an opportunity to gain new hope and a reason to celebrate.

New beginnings are always important. Never hesitate to begin over again and remember that a new year is always a reason to rejoice.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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