It is a new year. All the days line up like stepping-stones, as far as the eye can see, until they disappear into a new horizon. I stand on the first one, breathless to see where these days will take me.
At my side, my bags stand ready. I have packed the memories, tucked away the bits of wisdom, and made sure my hopes and dreams and goals are folded neatly inside.
But I have other baggage too. Fears. Hurts. Insecurities. Haunting memories. Bitter disappointments.
I stand on this little square of a day, the stepping stone to a whole new year, and I know I’m supposed to make all sorts of promises to myself to travel lighter this time. I know I am not supposed to bring all the junk along for the journey.
It is easier said than done. Some of this baggage has been with me a long time. I know the contents of those bags by heart, so often have I opened them and taken each piece out, one by one, to make sure they’re all still there. I reorganize the hurts, make sure I still remember why I should be insecure, and trace over all the wounds.
You’re not good enough.
You’re too flat.
You’re getting fat.
You are not one of us.
You are unkind.
You are too proud.
You are not the quality person you used to be.
Oh yes, everything is there, exactly where I left it. I consider tossing some of them, and even leave a few by the wayside for a time. But I always go back and repack my bags again.
If I really want to travel lighter, I am told, I need to make specific goals. I need to forgive myself and others. I need to accept myself. I need to put things down and not take them up again.
Soon, I am stressing over the fact that I need to change and can’t seem to be able to do it. I am not really okay with myself. I am not at peace with certain aspects of the past. I am not able to try on swimsuits at Target and embrace my thirty-something, post-twins body, believing I’m every bit as beautiful as the bouncy nineteen-year-old in the stall next to me without feeling like I’m lying to myself.
You haven’t aged well.
Why did you think you’d fit into those jeans?
You have no self-control.
You don’t stick to anything.
You need to be okay with yourself.
You’re supposed to have this conquered by now.
I might need another suitcase.
Instead, I stand on this little block of time and squint my eyes out as far as they can go. Day after day after day disappears into the eternity in front of me. One day, I will be free.
That is the hope of eternity. One day, all this baggage will disappear. And it is not up to me to figure out how to empty my bags on my own. It is not my job to be better, to do better, to accept myself with some sort of delusional self-esteem mantra.
Some things will not be okay on this side of heaven.
But there is heaven.
And heaven came down—didn’t we just celebrate that?—so that right here, in this little square of a day on this side of eternity, Jesus can begin that perfect work now.
It is not up to me, or a resolution, or a day on the calendar. It is not the calendar that makes us new. It is Jesus. It does not matter how much we resolve and will and plan and try—without the inner, transforming work of His Spirit, we remain just as hopeless as we were the year before, and the year before that.
Here on this earth, we wrestle with cursed flesh and breathe the stench of singed souls. There isn’t a resolution on earth good enough to change that.
But in heaven, God resolved for us to do what we cannot do for ourselves: to truly change and transform us, to make us new, to forgive and atone for the past, and to make us fully pleasing and acceptable for the future.
Now that is something new.
Because of Him, I can set my burdens down, right here on the first day of the rest of my eternity, knowing that one day, He will make it okay. There is freedom in the faith that He will open those bags, and I will see that they are empty. And not only empty but clean, bright, and new.
Because all this time, He has been at work, accomplishing the resolutions I have not had the resolve to do. Though I strive for holiness, and should, I fall short. He never does. His transformation of me is perfect. Complete. And independent of my ability to let go, step up, or do better.
On this, the first day of a new year in which I desperately want to be new too, this is the thing that makes me lighter and freer. Not my resolution, but His. Not my try but His accomplished.
What a beautiful hope. I set my baggage down and spread my arms open to the glorious truth that He is emptying the bag I cannot empty on my own.
He is making all things new.
That is something the calendar can never do.