1: having recently come into existence: recent, modern
2 a (1): having been seen, used, or known for a short time: novel (2): unfamiliar
b: being other than the former or old
3: having been in a relationship or condition but a short time
4: different from one of the same category that has existed previously
5: of dissimilar origin and usually of superior quality
I can smell it in the air. Newness. It’s fresher, lighter, and easier to inhale somehow. It’s a new year. New goals and new ambitions. New beginnings. New strategies to be better than we were before. They say the beginning is the most thrilling. They might be right. Like the beginning of a new book. Or how about the beginning of a new relationship? Hope and anticipation make beginnings energizing.
“New” isn’t something we have to define, but it is something we have to create. We create new when we create something that didn’t exist before, something unfamiliar, different, unknown, dissimilar, and maybe even superior. I’d like to add a few other possible adjectives to this description: uncomfortable, challenging, and contrary.
But why do I find myself part-way through the year in more of the “newish” category? As in, somewhat new and somewhat the same. Aren’t those contradictory? Something cannot be new and old, or can it?
Let’s take a look at my standard New Year’s Resolutions: 1. be healthier, 2. travel more, 3. love better, 4. write more, 5. draw closer to Jesus. But they aren’t really new because they’re always the same. And if I’m honest, I never want to stop reaching after these things. I am in a constant state of persevering. The newish part comes in when I try different methods of doing them better, more effectively.
Take marriage for example. My husband and I are coming up on our seventh wedding anniversary (and over a decade together). There isn’t much newness there. I can hardly remember the details of our beginning. He’s as familiar as myself. And I love that. But to keep our old love alive, we have to find new ways to fall in love. The moment we stop seeking new ways to woo our spouse, all hope and anticipation fades. This is why I like our newish marriage. We can never again be entirely new to each other, but I never want to be entirely the same.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” (Seneca, Roman philosopher)
This new year, I want keep the newish goals but also add entirely new ones. Specific goals with specific end points. If what Seneca said is true, then the beginning of a new thing comes from the completion of the prior thing. Which means to add “B,” I must be done with “A.” There’s still only twenty-four hours in a day and only one of me.
My wish to all of you is this: whether you are seeking new in 2017 or just newish, do it. Create new or create new ways to keep the old. Find hope and anticipate the future.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)