Come, Let Us Anew
I think it’s fairly safe to say that for the overwhelming majority of people, 2020 was a pretty terrible year. As the year drew to a close, many people, myself included, were excited for a fresh start and glad to put the year behind us. Then the predictable contrarians jumped on social media to deny us our joy. They took great glee in raining on our parade by saying that just because the calendar flips over a day doesn’t mean that anything changes.
In a literal sense, that’s true. All the stuff that made 2020 horrible didn’t disappear at the stroke of midnight like Cinderella’s dress. But in a symbolic sense, it’s still meaningful to take a fresh start. We’re not suddenly different people on Sunday when we take the sacrament, but it’s still a meaningful ritual to commit ourselves to change and to doing better every week. And the start of a new year can likewise be a chance to turn over a new leaf and put the past behind us. It’s an exercise in hope, which is a virtue that takes its place right alongside faith and charity.
Most of what went wrong in 2020 is stuff that I’m personally powerless to fix. I can’t cure covid. I can’t do anything about a president who wants to thwart the rule of law or governors who are ruling by fiat. I can’t stop police brutality. I can’t fix the economy or feed all the starving children who have been thrust into poverty. I can’t cure the mental health problems that current events have exacerbated.
But I can keep plugging along in my little corner of the world. I can take care of myself, my employee, and my clients. By caring for myself I have the bandwidth to care for others, and I relieve others from needing to care for me. And every person who is able to lift themselves and those around them will have a cascading effect, and bit by bit we can make 2021 better than 2020. And that’s why I’m going to do new year’s resolutions this year – as an act of defiance against the nihilism that is so tempting to slip into. Even though I can’t control the big things, I can work on small things, and many people doing small things can add up to something big. And we can build Zion, piece by piece.
When I contemplate my annual resolutions, I use Luke 2:52 as a guide: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and with people.” I see that as four areas to work on – mental, physical, spiritual, and social. Together that makes for a well-rounded person.
I’m probably not going to keep all of my resolutions, but I’m going to try anyway. Even if I only manage 50% success, that’s still better than where I’m at now. And next year, I’ll try again.
I burned a candle on New Year’s Eve to say goodbye to the year. The candle was a flaming representation of my desire to be done with 2020. Candles, smoke, and incense have been used throughout time to represent prayer. It’s my fervent prayer that the damage of 2020 will be short-lived and that we’ll be able to pick up the pieces and move forward quickly. And small as it is, I’m going to do my part to make that a reality.