Before the presents were wrapped to later be unwrapped, before candles flickered during Christmas Eve services, before we all returned to work and the calendar flipped from December to January, I heard it.
In Instagram captions and my Facebook newsfeed, during conversations with friends and while listening to podcast episodes, a message rang loud and clear:
New year, new you.
How can four small words carry such weight? The pressure feels like a burden. I’m overwhelmed and exhausted just at the idea.
To be honest, 2019 is not a year I’d like to repeat. It was challenging in ways I may never find words for, but there’s another path running alongside every difficulty: growth.
Most of the growth happened below the surface, roots reaching down deep, and while there’s a long way still to go (and grow), there’s comfort in knowing the same One who was with me every day of 2019 will walk with me through 2020 as well.
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9 (NLT)
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)
“Remember that I am always with you until the end of time.”
Matthew 28:20b (GW)
I’m not interested in a “new you” route. But growth? Wholeness? Learning to see myself and my ordinary everyday through His eyes? Absolutely.
I want to speak with kindness to others and to myself, to choose grace instead of guilt, to unlearn shame and let go of hurry. I want to take off the layers of my old self to see the already-made-new woman underneath (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:22-24, and Colossians 3:1-17).
New year, new you? No thanks.
I want this instead:
New year, same God.
On Christmas afternoon, after the table was cleared and the torn wrapping paper picked up, I pulled out The Greatest Gift and read these words, the “new you” weight falling off my shoulders with each sentence:
“He is the God who is so for us that He can’t stay away from us. The God who loves us and likes us and isn’t merely 50 percent or 72.3 percent for us, but the God who is always, unequivocally, 100 percent for us — the God who so likes us, the God who is so for us that He is the God who chooses to be with us.”
He didn’t call Himself “I Might Be” or “I Was.” He is the right-this-very-second, in-this-moment, always-with-you God. He is the God of Right Now. “I Am.”
God come to us, God come for us, God forever with us. Emmanuel.
He sees us and He sees us through every high and every low, every ordinary in-between. El Roi.
It’s just as true on January 9th as it is on December 25th. He’s as faithful and good, loving and present, on this page of the calendar as He was on the last.
He’s the God who comes and stays and sees, and more than anything else in 2020, I want to see Him with 20/20 vision.
In the difficult roadblocks, in the wide open spaces, in the twists and turns of what seem to be confusing detours, and in the benches along the way that welcome me to pause and rest. In happy hellos and grief-filled goodbyes, in tears that lead to laughter and laughter that leads to tears, may we see Him every step of the way, present on every page.
Emmanuel, God with us every day of the year.
In every moment and every change, the unchanging One remains. He sees us . . . may we see Him ever more clearly in the coming days.
New year, same God.