In the Book of Revelation, John tells the story of a voice emanating from a large white throne, a voice that proclaims many things, among them the words, “Behold, I make all things new” (21:5). This voice of God, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, tells us that with him, there is newness of life. There is newness of hope. There is newness of being.
It is hard not to think of those words at the dawning of a new year. Everything is ripe with newness, brimming with potential. This is the year, we tell ourselves, that we’ll get into shape, write that novel, master our organizational skills or declutter the house. Maybe we’ll learn a new language or take that trip we’ve had mentally planned for a decade. These are all noble goals. I, myself, have many of them — though I am much better at ideating my New Year’s resolutions than I am at executing them.
Too often, all the potential of the newness of the year devolves into a list of basic goals — boxes to be checked to mark any number of worldly accomplishments. We forget that God has already made all things new. By nature of our baptism, we have been given the life of grace. We need now but to cooperate with it in order to reach our goal of life with God forever in heaven.
Maybe this is where the goals of our new year and the goals of the spiritual life overlap. How can we take the newness of the season and the gift of God’s grace and embrace them in tandem?
I have three suggestions for my new year that I’ll be working on, and I invite you to join me. The first is living in a posture of gratitude. God is so generous with us. He sent us his Son, the Word made flesh, to open the door to salvation. He pours down his grace on us through the sacraments. In our human frailty, we mess up again and again, yet his love is far greater than the greatest of our offenses. Do we ponder that enough? Dwell in that enough? Do we live out our lives in that place of gratitude, acknowledging that everything is gift — and show our gratitude to him for it?
The second suggestion I have is to cultivate a life where peace can dwell. Maybe it’s because I spend way too much time refereeing the “playtime” of two little ones, maybe it’s because I consume too much news, but creating a peaceful existence has become a real priority. How do we become people of peace, welcoming the Prince of Peace into our homes? How can we practice patience, set aside frustrations, opt for collaboration over conflict? How can we avoid letting the world or those around us disrupt our peace? How can we bring peace to others who struggle?
The third is prioritizing an attitude of generosity. I’ve said it already, but it bears repeating: God is so generous with us. And we don’t deserve a mite of it! How can we extend that generosity with others? It doesn’t have to mean writing a check to a charity, though that’s always a noble and good thing. It doesn’t mean volunteering for a worthy cause, though that is very good, too. Generosity can be much more simple: a smile when one’s natural impulse might be a grumble, choosing to think the best of someone’s intentions rather than the worst, or taking the time to offer a word of support or encouragement, even when in a rush.
There are so many ways of embracing the newness of life that is God’s great gift to us. In this new year, let us choose to cooperate.
Gretchen R. Crowe is the editor-in-chief of OSV News. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.