Another year has come to an end. But it’s just another artificial marker in the movement of time, meaningless in the natural scheme of things. We humans give it any meaning and power it has.

For the rest of nature, December 31st is merely one day followed by another that might be no different than the day before. The sun shines slightly longer on the northern hemisphere on January 1st than the previous day, but nature sees little significance in one day over the other.

Why does this calendar mean so much to us, a calendar created by the Church to mark the religious seasons in sync with the holidays of pre-Christian civilizations?

I’ve heard people answer with the belief that a new year is their real chance for new beginnings. It’s as if this date is the only time to start anew, to change one’s direction and to leave the past.

It’s as if it’s the calendar itself that gives us permission to make the changes we want in our life. More often New Year’s resolutions fade first in practice and then in memory. Some people seem to give them up for lent.

Calendars aren’t what change us. Our decisions to change are what make the difference, and we can make them without regard for time, day, or year.

We’re powerful enough to choose to be what we want to be. We take back this power by the decisions we make.

We’re not victims who can’t feel good about ourselves without the approval of others. We can decide to think, to act, and to make decisions, based upon the belief that we are whole, complete, valuable, and powerful.

We can make these decisions without the approval of anyone else. And when we find ourselves not following through on our decisions, we can remake them without blame or shame. We can do so again and again until we’ve found our life’s stride that moves us as whole human beings into healthy relationships.

We can choose to create safe places to be who we are. We can decide never again to settle for anything less than absolutely everything.

We can choose not to settle for friends and companions who do not support our growth and are not willing and secure enough to walk beside us on our paths with acceptance and love.

We can choose to believe that love is not a limited commodity and to reject the idea that if I love you it will diminish my love for my friends – because in reality deep love between two people spills over to change the world and everyone around them.

We can decide no longer to accept the messages that all good things must come to an end, or that the happiness I’m feeling is too good to be true, or that romance never lasts, or that there will be payback for any good I experience now.

We can decide that we are worth being loved and that it’s worth our own time to wait for a partner who will love us for who we are and who we want to become. We don’t have to settle.

We can choose to be intimate with someone emotionally and to be vulnerable with our feelings, hurts, and dreams with someone we choose.

We can choose to set our own boundaries with those who want to impose their negativity on us.

We can choose to act or not act on our emotions.

We can choose friends who support us. We can say goodbye to those who don’t.

We can judge our own behavior, thoughts, and emotions, and take responsibility for them.

We can choose to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying our behavior.

We can choose to say “I don’t know,” “I don’t care,” or “No,” without feeling guilty.

We can choose to say “I don’t understand,” without feeling stupid.

We can choose to be illogical in making decisions.

We can choose not to be responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems.

We can choose to change our minds.

We can choose to be independent of the good will of others before we choose to cope with them.

We can choose to organize and lead movements to end what is hurting us and our communities.

We can choose to do every small act that makes this world better.

We can choose to recognize where we are afraid and distinguish it from what is really scary “out there.” We can choose how much fear is worth to us and how it will change our actions.

Our decision to take back our power is greater than we think. And when we make these choices we can also choose to feel how it feels again to live our lives by our own decisions.

For many of us, that in itself might feel scary. As children we learned that we had to live by the decisions of the adults around us. We may have been told that making our own decisions was selfish or stupid.

But, as adults we no longer have to live with those messages. And we never have to wait for the right time of year to begin again, to re-decide, and to face the useless messages inside us that keep us from living as who we were made to be — the loving, caring, powerful, whole and complete human beings we really are even when at times we get confused about it.

Contributed by

Bob Minor

University of Kansas
Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies
A national resource for information on gender issues and gay/straight relationships for organizations, businesses, educational institutions, and media outlets such as NBC and USA Today, Bob Minor, Ph.D. …

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