How to Welcome the New Year With a New You

Guest Post by Janell Urban

I met Janell last summer at a writers retreat in Park City. Impressed by her kind demeanor and courageous story, I asked her if she would share an essay on this blog. From Tuscaloosa Alabama, Janell is a teacher, writer, and speaker who loves helping others experience healing and hope. Her writings remind us who we belong to, who we are in him, and where we are headed. She and her husband walked with God through a fire/explosion in 2012. Their trust in an invisible God was evident when they prayed his promises, declared his sovereignty, and worshipped him through every step of the painful process.


New Year. New you!
We love all things new.
New phone.
New house.
New furniture.
New car.
New toys.
New clothes.

My kitchen needed remodeling. But I didn’t want to put the effort or money into remodeling because if someone spilled strawberry topping on the pink carpet, I could scrub just enough until the stain blended into the old fibers. There’s no masquerading a room full of fifty-year-old stuff, so no harm done.

Before the old kitchen, I had a new kitchen. This was scary for my family because I was always yelling at them to be careful. Do not make a mess. Don’t scratch the wood floor. Every hand towel, placemat and butter knife had to be in the proper place. The stress of keeping it new was insurmountable.

We remodeled our family business from worn Santa Fe colors of tan and turquoise to white walls and blue trim. Upgrading the plastic filling station to stainless steel gave the water store a professional and clean appearance.

The new look brought new customers. A year later the entire building exploded. Debris filled and ruined, we were forced to demolish and find new careers.

Losing stuff gives new focus: Love God first and allow him to be king of my heart.

New hope: God’s mercies are new every morning.

He changes us from: selfish to caring, stingy to giving, angry to merciful.

Surrender to the process: remove old ways and improve with his triumphant ways.

Reflect on a partially remodeled heart: a new project never completed.

We often invite Jesus in but prevent him from tearing out the linoleum floors of selfishness.

Paint the walls with his sacrificial blood, but refrain from filling the painful holes created by hurtful words and actions with forgiveness.

Expose and keep rotted wounds of sheetrock for anyone willing to listen to my complaints.

Spiff up the outside so all can see greatness, but keep the windows dirty so no one can see faults and bad habits hidden inside.

Insert a new living-water sink to wash and heal, but never pour out healing prayers.

Build new counters and cabinets of love and grace, but fill them with past mistakes and regrets to remind of unworthiness.

Not very attractive huh?

Instead, gaining a new heart is like purchasing a new car. Jesus bought and paid for all the bells and whistles that God has to offer. So it’s time to:

1. Read God’s manual to know how to operate those new technical devices.
2. Pray for the V-8 power to share with all those around you.
3. Drive around community, school, and work; willing to share love, grace, and mercy. People are looking to see if the new deal is the real deal, so they can acquire one themselves.

A new life that matters is surrendering our hearts, not replacing temporal things.

Fill us with hope for a new year to be different than last year.
Be the new you!