Discarded wrapping paper coiled across the carpet, creating crumples of every imaginable color. My ever-diligent husband was separating salvageable bows from hopelessly shredded ribbons, black plastic garbage bag in hand. I looked up from my own last-opened gift and took in the scene of engagement around me. My daughter stacked her gift of makeup neatly next to her hairdryer and earrings, all still in their boxed-up glory. My son and his wife nested baby gifts inside gift bags containing their own treasures. Each grandson dove into a favorite gift.
Why is “new” so enticing? And not just in Christmas gifts. New beckons us to purchase a never-before-worn outfit for a special event. It woos us to try out a different recipe. It invites us to a daring haircut. And it attaches glittery hope to another year. One that will likely bring the same kinds of joys and sorrows, fulfillments and disappointments, met expectations and unmet ones as every year before.
Might the definition help us understand our enthrallment with new?
I found two explanations for this often-used adjective:
1. new – “not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time.”
Well, that’s fun, isn’t it? The whole concept of discovery and being first screams excitement! There’s a pioneering, explorative quality to new. Besides, who doesn’t want to be first?
2. new – “already existing but seen, experienced, or acquired recently or now for the first time.”
At first glance this definition surprised me, even confused me because how can something be “new” if it’s already existed. Right? But wait, this definition of new adds a legitimization to the ME in the world. When I see, experience or require for the first time, I experience new even if everyone else already has it. New to me counts as new. Wow! I’m pretty important in this version of new. And you too!
Scripture is smack-full of new things. New songs put in our mouths (Psalm 40:3). New names to reflect new identities (Isaiah 62:2). A new covenant to bring us all closer to our God (Jeremiah 31:31). A new command that rolls all the old ones into love (John 13:34). A new self as our old beings fade away (2 Corinthians 5:17). A new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1).
As I step into this new year, my eyes and ears are open to the new in my surroundings. The truly new – like a grandbaby on the way. And the new to me – like who I will be as an experienced grandmother to two grandboys but new as a grandmother to this gender-yet-to-be-revealed new grandchild. In the many new things in the coming months, I will face a joyous new followed by a disappointing new, an exciting new and then round the corner to a surprising new which might become a scary new or a delightful new.
And so will you.
Let’s prepare ourselves to receive the new as it comes to us, to develop the new as God leads us to, to grieve the wounds brought by new, to delight in the new that heals and to share the new with others.
Happy New Year!
Elisa Morgan's latest book is - Christmas Changes Everything. She is the cohost of the podcast, God Hears Her. She is also the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her other books include You Are Not Alone, When We Pray Like Jesus, The Beauty of Broken, and Hello, Beauty Full. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.