Every year on January 1st, life hits the reset button. Echoing around the globe are calls for “fresh starts,” “new beginnings,” and a detailed plan of attack for the inevitable weight-loss goals. Out with the old and in crashes the new on a glittering wave of 10-second-countdowns and misty eyed renditions of “Auld Lang Syne.”
At the stroke of midnight, we boldly launch ourselves into a new year filled with endless promise and opportunity. Excited over the prospect of what these next twelve months will hold, we dutifully record our 105 resolutions and set out to achieve our “best year yet!”
This year will be better than last – we tell ourselves this over and over again as we toss out half eaten chocolate bars and strap on brand new pairs of running shoes. The blank page before us is just waiting to be transcribed; it’s brimming with possibility and void of last year’s sorrows, mishaps, tears, and pain. This year we’ll be a better, stronger, happier version of ourselves.
But resetting isn’t always that simple.
While the New Year involves a lot of looking forward, it also involves a lot of looking back. For those who have lost someone, this time of ponderous reflection can make the New Year a particularly difficult time. Not only have you just survived the holiday season without your loved one, you’re now facing the prospect of another year without them.
The New Year is about moving forward but this isn’t always an easy task.
Fresh starts can be daunting. There are days when looking back is more comforting than facing the loneliness of moving forward. It’s easier to dream about going back to the time before – before the funeral, before the loss, before the pain. To go back for one more cuddle and to never let go.
We’re afraid that the passage of time will erase memories that were once so vivid, so alive. We’re afraid that time will pull us apart from what little we have left of our loved one.
I look at the new calendar hanging on my wall and am reminded that another year has past without one of my precious, little boys. Another year has slid by without the sound of his sweet voice learning to talk or the soft padding of his jammie clad feet across the laminate flooring.
Time has pulled me further away from him.
There’s another year between us. Another year between now and the time I got to hold his chubby, still, little body in my arms. Another year between the memory of his tiny feet wedged under my ribs, and the daily somersault competitions that took place in my swollen tummy.
But while the New Year reminds us of our separation and our loss, there is another angle to this grief-tinged perspective on the passage of time. It’s a glass-half-full sort of thought that says “Time softens pain,” and most importantly, “Time brings us closer together.”
The idea that time could unite us to those whom we’ve lost seems incredible, a reversal of its innate role. And yet, because of the birth of a tiny baby, we have such hope.
Two thousand years ago, a baby was born so that we might be given a “fresh start.” For those who follow Him, comes the beautiful promise of an eternal life lived in worship of the King. Here is where we find peace; here is what gives us an alternative way of viewing this new year.
This truth points at an important discovery – the passage of time does not bring us further away from those we’ve lost, rather, it holds the assurance of bringing us one year closer to them. We know that one day we will see them again. We are one year closer to being reunited; one year closer to complete healing.
And more importantly, one year closer to Him.