I’ll confess: I’m not a big New Year’s person. September has always felt like more of a turning point for me than January. Come midnight on December 31, I’d rather be home with a few friends than out with a crowd watching the ball drop in Times Square. I resist resolutions like the plague.
And yet there’s still something appealing to me about the idea of a new chapter, a fresh start. Especially if it comes not with a list of expectations but with a promise of freedom. New Year’s freedoms—now that’s a January 1st tradition I could get behind.
The idea of stepping into freedom lay behind an activity that I led Rock Recovery’s clients in just before the new year. I knew that many of them would have spend time over the holidays with their families of origin. And while some experience their families of origin as sources of love, safety, and support, others find them to be extremely challenging. When we’re with our parents and siblings, we very easily slip back into the patterns and roles that shaped our childhood identities. No matter how hard we may have worked to shed them, the labels and behaviors that our families of origin used to identify us have a way of glomming back onto us when we spend time with them—especially during times as emotionally laden as the holidays. And those labels and behaviors have a way of restricting us, capturing us in ways of being that are at odds with how we would like to live in the world.
So for our New Year’s activity, I gave each of our clients a piece of waxed paper and a magic marker. I invited them to write on the waxed paper the untrue labels or identities others had given them—or they had given themselves—that they wanted to let go of. Quickly, they filled their pieces of waxed paper with words like crazy, stubborn, sick, selfish. I then invited them to take their piece of waxed paper and dip it in a pan of water, watching as all of those untrue labels dissolved into the water. When they retrieved their piece of waxed paper, it was new and clean. And then—this time with a permanent marker—they wrote on their paper the labels and identities that were true about themselves. Things like loved, whole, beautiful, valuable, worthy.
What are the false labels or identities that you are holding onto, that keep you from living into the freedom and wholeness that God intends for you? What truths might you replace them with?
The scriptures are full of these truths:
I am a child of God. (John 1:12)
God’s love for me is great! It reaches to the heavens. (Psalm 58:10)
I have been made complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:9-10)
I am a friend of Jesus. (John 15.15)
I have been set free in Christ. (Galatians 5:1)
As you enter 2017, I invite you to consider what New Year’s freedoms God might be inviting you into. I am confident that you will find life and peace in them.