The Author

Happy New You

I recently had to be over at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas to renew my clergy badge. This is one of the perks that the hospital provides ministers–after some training–that allows us access to usually off limits or after-hours places in the hospital. I can swipe my card and get into the emergency area or into surgery waiting without having to jump through too many hoops. In addition, using the card allows me to park in some of the employee lots. Because the management of the parking lots has been outsourced to a new company, everyone who had an old badge had to get a new one.

I was standing in line with everyone else just a couple of days after the new year enduring the process while eavesdropping on the conversation in front of me. A couple of ministers who obviously knew each other were comparing notes on how the year had begun. The man directly in front of me was proud of the fact that he was answering the phone in a unique way. Whenever it would ring, he would answer with, “Happy New You!” Every time he said this (and he said it several times), he would break out in a loud laugh. Every time he laughed, I laughed.

He didn’t say how people responded to his greeting. I suspect that if he laughed every time he said, they couldn’t help but respond the way I did. But if you try saying it, you’ll discover that it isn’t easy to say. Probably it’s because we are so used to the familiar phrase that our mind has a hard time adapting to the new phrase. That last word keeps wanting to be year. Old habits are hard to break.

That is the real challenge, isn’t it? At the start of every year, tradition tells us that we should make resolutions, chart a new course, make a new beginning. But it’s hard, much harder than saying – it’s hard to do.Maybe the fellow in front of me laughed because he knew that the “new you” couldn’t happen without some help. I hope it was a prayer, a desire that the one who was listening would discover that newness that we all long for. It certainly is a promise. At the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of the year, we are reminded that new things are possible because of the Lord whose birth we celebrate. He is the one who has come to make all things new. Happy new you.