How to find grace in the new year

We’re a few days into January and I’ve been bombarded for what seems like weeks with messages about becoming a new and better version of myself in the new year. Between magazines at the checkout aisle, to TV commercials, to my email inbox, even to my Instagram feed, everyone wants to tell me how to meet my goals, how to stick to my resolutions, and what habits are worth pursuing.

I was truly inspired to de-clutter, work out, eat more salad, read more books, write more often, and generally Get My Life Together. And when I fell asleep on New Year’s Eve (before ten o’clock, because: kids) I woke up ready to tackle all the things on the first day of this brand new year.

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Reality sets in

All of my good intentions, however, were wasted in the face of reality: we still had family staying with us. None of Christmas was put away yet. We hadn’t fully unpacked from our weekend getaway. The kitchen sink was still backed up and I was doing dishes in the bathtub. I was surrounded by leftover Christmas cookies and chocolate. The blank slate I had been promised looked a lot like yesterday’s slate, actually. I went to bed at the end of the day having tackled none of the things and feeling like a failure.

Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe it’s a few days into January, and you haven’t done that one thing you resolved to do in the new year, be it to make it to the gym, create a budget, eat a meatless meal, sort through the kids toys, or clean out your closet. Maybe your Christmas decorations are still out, and there’s no fresh fruit in the house so you’re munching on a gingerbread cookie.

How to find grace in the new year

If you’re struggling with unmet expectations, with missed goals, with a plan deferred, I’m here to tell you that you’re not a failure. There isn’t a goal or resolution out there that is going to make you more worthy of love. God has already declared you Beloved by sending his Son to redeem you. No amount of productivity, weight loss, financial independence, or hustle is going to earn you more love or more grace.

This is not to say that setting goals or striving to be a better person isn’t a good thing. But when we wrap up our sense of worth with our ability to meet our resolutions, we become mired in the lie that we need to earn our place at the table. And God has already invited us, just as we are, to pull up a chair and sit with Him.

May this be the year that you bask in the love and grace He has freely given to you!


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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

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