“I am running into a new year and the old years blow back like a wind…”
So begins Lucille Clifton’s poem, which captures some of our feelings as we go into this new year. We are grateful to God for the new year. We also realize there is some letting go that needs to happen with the old year, or the past.
The poem continues: “…it will be hard to let go of what I said to myself about myself when I was 16 and 26 even 36….”
In order to move on, most of us have to do some letting go. As pastors, we recall a conversation with an older man who couldn’t get used to not being healthy, strong and independent. Another man missed the job and title to which he gave so much of his life. A woman missed the husband who was so much a part of her life. Parents miss the grown-up kids who used to occupy so much space in their lives. A young adult misses the relationship that was exhilarating, for a time.
We miss friends, traditions and roles that used to define us. It is not easy to let go of what we told ourselves about who we are. Change is unrelenting and one cannot hold back the flowing river of time. Most of us really do have some things to cry about — or grief to get through.
There is a difference, however, between healthy grief and refusal to grow, adapt and change with the times. In the Gospels, you can see that most of the people who chose not to follow Jesus were unwilling to give up the things they told themselves about themselves. Their expectations and attachments kept them from receiving the new life that Jesus offered.
In Isaiah 43:19 (ESV), God says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” As we receive this gift of 2019, we pray that you will be courageous enough “to let go of what you said to yourself about yourself.” We also pray that you will be open to the new things that God is offering to you in this new year.