The new year is a potent symbol of new beginnings. Everyone loves the idea of leaving the past behind and making a new start. Given the Course’s focus on these same themes, it is really no surprise that it mentions the new year several times. As we will soon see, Jesus even asks us to join with him in making a New Year’s resolution.
In the Course’s main discussion of this topic (T-16.II.7-9), we can see two streams of events that lead up to the new year. The first stream is what it calls “the disaster you have made” (T-16.II.8:4). This disaster involves trying, without success, to solve our problems on our own (T-16.II.9:2), and chaining people to us in the requirement that they sacrifice for us (T-15.XI.10:5-7). In short, this disaster is us doing it our way. It is in actuality a long stream of mistakes. These mistakes are made in the name of improving our lives, yet oddly, the more things “improve,” the more they stay the same.
The other stream is God’s presence in our lives. According to the Course, we have seen many witnesses to God’s Love for us, witnesses that have spoken “so clearly that only the blind and deaf could fail to see and hear them” (T-16.II.8:1). It says that we have invited the Holy Spirit, and He is here (T-16.I.3:11). We have given problems to Him, and He has solved them (T-16.II.9:1). We have applied His ideas, and they have “proved their power” (T-16.II.9:6). God, in other words, has actually shown up in our lives, in ways that we cannot deny.
Yet in which stream do we place our faith? Jesus’ answer is blunt: “You have so little faith in what you heard [from God’s Voice], because you have preferred to place still greater faith in the disaster you have made” (T-16.II.8:4). It seems to us that we are the lifelong captive of the stream of our mistakes. In our eyes, that stream is reality. In spite of our attempts at change, we simply assume that stream will keep carrying us along “its pitiless, inevitable course” (W-pI.194.5:2). In contrast, the witnesses to God’s Love are like angels singing to us from the shore. Yes, their voices are beautiful, yet they are also like a dream, with little power in reality. No matter how much they sing, we remain in the current’s icy grip.
New Year’s Day, from the Course’s perspective, is a time to consider that we may have gotten the picture backwards. Maybe the stream of our mistakes is the dream, and maybe the stream of God’s presence in our lives is the reality. Could that really be the case? Jesus urges us to look carefully at the evidence: “Think what you have really seen and heard, and recognize it. Can you be alone with witnesses like these?” (T-16.II.9:9-10).
If those witnesses are right and God really is here, that changes everything. Then we are not alone. And then our past mistakes don’t matter anymore. For God does not regard them. In fact, He has cancelled them. Our record is clean. Our chains have been severed. Now nothing is stopping us from climbing out of the stream of our disaster and into the stream of God’s presence. Now we can give it our faith. Now it can become our present and our future.
Just imagine a life not in the grip of your past patterns. Imagine a life instead determined by that second stream, the presence of God in your life. What would that life be like? Imagine a life in which the first stream recedes ever more into the background, while the second stream moves increasingly into the foreground and encompasses everything.
Jesus is asking us to make the new year the time in which this happens. He is asking us to make this time our break with the past and our new start on a clean slate. Quite simply, he is asking us to make the following New Year’s resolution: “Today, let us resolve together to accept the joyful tidings that disaster is not real and that reality is not disaster” (T-16.II.8:5).
Can we do this? Are we willing to resolve with Jesus to accept the good news that the disaster we have made is not real and that what is real is God’s Love for us? Are we willing to make this the year when we leave behind the stream of our past mistakes and spend our future floating down the stream of God’s presence in our lives?
[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]