The Roaring '20s are back!
New year! New decade! Bring back the flapper! Long live the zoot suit!
This month brings with it brand-new possibilities, including the possibility that it’ll be much like last January.
We know what it is like to be stuck in old ways and stubborn mistakes. And yet, as people named and claimed by God, we know that through the Holy Spirit, change is possible. Things can be different. Hope is not an illusion.
So as I looked around for advice to guide my new year, here are some ideas that jumped out at me:
1. Leave the house without your cellphone.
Literally. Not on airplane mode. Not on silent. Try just leaving it home.
Yes, yes, yes, there are times you need it. Maybe you even need it a majority of your trips. But what if you left it home once a week? Three times? What if you left it at home for your trips to church?
Oddly enough, the human desire for connection has made us dependent on a machine. Most of us can’t stand in a line up for 30 seconds without checking our email or social media. Our desire for constant connection often disconnects us from our surroundings and makes us insecure when we feel alone.
Christians especially need to remember that our cell phones are not our lifeline — prayer is.
2. Accept compliments with a simple "thank you."
Don’t treat other people like liars when they say something good about you. Let yourself feel affirmed. Start by simply saying “thank you.” You’ll be surprised by how good it feels and how your receptivity makes others feel valued in return. It also combats the lies we are told about who we are.
3. Be willing to say, "I was wrong."
No one likes a person who constantly makes excuses. Refusing to admit you are wrong does not make you any more right. “To err is human – to forgive is divine.”
There is power in being willing to admit you messed up or had your facts wrong. When we do so, we show that our value comes not from being right, but the fact that our identity is in Jesus.
4. Let go of your guilt and shame.
Stop hanging onto and replaying your mistakes. Real faith is repenting and believing you are forgiven — and then acting like it. The Bible never commands us to repent and then beat ourselves up for a while. God tells us we are forgiven.
Understanding that we are not the ultimate power is a real display of humility and will make it a lot easier to find joy despite our imperfections.
May you find the new year full of possibilities!
Brendan Johnston is pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Two Harbors.