The New Year Fear

by Alyssa von Helms

January 10, 2018

Clock at NYC Grand Central Station

I find that the coming of the new year breaks society into two types of people: me and my sister. My sister is the kind of person who LOVES new years. She also happens to be the kind of person who thrives on making to-do lists that include things like work out every day and practice watercolors and learn to like kale—and then actually does them.

Me? I’m the kind of person who starts to panic around 11:58 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. What will this year bring? Wasn’t it just 2012? What happened to all my goals? Why is kale still so . . . kale-y?

I admire a lot about my sister but I especially admire the way she tackles things she wants to accomplish. It’s not that I can’t do those things too, but recently I’ve realized that my problem with New Year’s is less about our personalities and more about fear. The New Year Fear, as I call it. That’s right: the ticking clock becomes my nemesis somewhere around midnight on December 31, all because I’m afraid of what the new year will (or won’t) bring. And when I pause to think about it, I can see the wide open door where I let that fear in.

“This is your year!” I’ve heard it so often it feels like the official motto of New Year’s Eve. Here’s the thing: no year has been my year. Or your year, I’m guessing. I mean, really, who has had 365 days in a row of getting up every morning to eat accomplishment for breakfast, and then going to sleep every night feeling like a champion? It would be like the training montage in Rocky, except for an entire year. You know how even one month of that would feel? Exhausting. I bet you know that feeling because that’s usually how we feel when February rolls around. Tired, worn out, defeated. After all, there’s only so much pulling up your bootstraps can handle.

Which is why December 31 is usually my least favorite day of the year. Last year, like those before it, was full of great things and hard things. I grew in ways I didn’t expect and stayed the same in areas where I’d hoped for change. There are some goals I did accomplish and others that fell by the wayside—just like always. So I have to ask myself, what’s so scary about that? Why dread the New Year’s countdown when this year—and last year and all the years to come—is God’s?

I’ve come to realize that the New Year Fear is a symptom of me clinging to my goals too tightly, trying to control my life too much, and ending up feeling less than adequate. This year I’m trying the only remedy I know: trusting God and His plans for my life. That’s it. Simple, right?

Oh, and I’ve given up trying to like kale.

Alyssa von Helms is the administrative assistant to our Women’s Ministries team, and currently (still) working on her first novel.

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