Happy New Year? Why I don’t want a clean slate this year

As the new year rolls in, we can’t help but think about everything that transpired over this past year. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Some people say with the entrance of a new year comes a clean slate for our lives. This new year is a fresh start where anything could happen. Whatever occurred this past year remains in the past, and everyone gets a new year to do things right. New resolutions, new diet plans, new promises.

While the idea of a clean slate this year and a fresh start is great, it can also be a little misleading. The start of a new year brings new promises and new motivations, yes. But the idea that everything from the past year is wiped clean with the entrance of a fresh new year can be a deceptive fantasy. Come January 1, pretty much the only thing that is fresh and clean is your new calendar.

What carries over each year

Despite the cliches of a clean slate this year, the hard truth is that the old year carries over for each and every day of this new year. The mistakes we made are still our mistakes. The hurt from broken relationships doesn’t magically disappear when the clock strikes 12. Neither does the fear of what the future will or will not bring these next 12 months.

Here lies the trouble with thinking a new year provides a fresh start: We desire for the things that didn’t feel so good from this past year to melt away in the sunshine of new beginnings. We say we’ll do better, try harder and not fail as often.

And without realizing it, we add pressure to ourselves and pick up a burden God never meant for us to carry. We agonize over the fact that we’re supposed to have a clean slate this year, yet it feels as if we’re still carrying all our hurts and failures into the new year.

What’s the point of a fresh new calendar year if we don’t actually get a fresh start?

The beautiful things  

What if we flipped that question the other way? Think about this: What’s the point of going through the pain, mistakes and victories if we just get a fresh start each year? All we learned and experienced would prove truly pointless.

Chances are, you went through various fires this past year. And Jesus helped you walk out of each and every one. Don’t live with a desire to forget those times. We must not allow those times to define us, but leaving them in the past would be a waste.

There are beautiful things that carry over to the new year, too. All the true relationships that will never die. The new friendships that bloomed. The lessons learned. Think about all you learned through the hurt, the heartache and the mental battles you faced this year. Do you really want those wiped off your slate?

We are wiped clean

The idea of not wanting a clean slate this year does not mean we must harbor our mistakes, guilt and pain. It doesn’t mean we should constantly refer back to what we experienced this past year. It simply means we shouldn’t carry the weight of expectation. Thinking a new year will bring a fresh you to the table will cause terrible disappointment.

How, then, do we learn from the past without allowing it to define us? By remembering we’re already wiped clean. Our mistakes and failures from this past year don’t magically disappear with the flip of a calendar. There’s only one way to truly know our sins don’t follow us. We’re made clean and given a new start the moment we accept Jesus’ forgiveness.  

The forgiveness and clean slate Jesus gives enables us to put down the burden of having a better year or not remembering how that person hurt us or forgetting the pain we felt. He wipes us clean, not a new calendar year. He enables us to forgive. And He helps us learn from the pain without allowing it to define us.

What a mighty God we serve. He wipes clean our slates of shame and guilt while at the same time ensuring we have the opportunity to learn and grow from our experiences and even our sin.

So the lingering question is this: Do you want to attempt to give yourself a clean slate this year, forgetting what you’ve learned and putting pressure on yourself to have a better year? Or do you want to bask in the clean slate only Jesus provides? A fresh start that gives you new beginnings while allowing you to remember and cherish the tough times. Because with hurt comes lessons and healing. And forgetting means having to relearn those lessons all over again.

Hopefully we all choose Jesus’ clean slate.

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Let’s Talk About It: In what ways do you desire a clean slate this year? 

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12 Replies to “Happy New Year? Why I don’t want a clean slate this year”

  1. This is really good! I totally agree…if all our pain, grief, mistakes, and trials magically disappeared, the character, hope, and perseverance that it created wouldn’t count for much.

  2. Some very good observations here. I think we often obssess about clean skates when in truth, we are building a life. A clean slate would entail leveling our progress. Life is messy. A new year doesn’t change that.

  3. What an encouraging post to begin this year! I’m so glad He uses our experiences to grow us but that His grace pours abundantly each day to give us a new start!

  4. This is such a good post. Sometimes I pressure myself to finish all my big projects before the first of the year so I can start fresh, but that’s often an unrealistic expectation and trying to do things in my time instead of God’s.

    1. Thanks, Heather! I wanted to get all my planning done before the first of the year, but I ended up just feeling the pressure and not completing everything I wanted. So I know the feeling!

  5. “Think about this: What’s the point of going through the pain, mistakes and victories if we just get a fresh start each year? All we learned and experienced would prove truly pointless.” Yes! Let’s learn from our mistakes and draw closer to God!

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