One year when my grandmother was spending the holidays with us, she told us about the Christmas star. As my grandmother told the Christmas story, I was intrigued by how the wise men followed a star. That Christmas at 4:00 a.m. she woke us from the deepest sleep so our family could go outside to see the Christmas star. Sleepy eyed, my sisters and I stirred and obediently shuffled past the living room. We were too tired or too afraid to peek to see if there were any gifts under the tree. Dressed in our Christmas gowns, we walked outside into the cold air on our front porch. I’m not sure why we didn’t put on our coats, but the crisp winter air only awakened our senses even more to the special moment. Gran stood pointing up into the clear sky as the stars twinkled and welcomed us to behold the beauty. There was one star larger than the rest that shone brighter. As it illuminated the Christmas sky it took the shape of a cross. I will never forget it. I was so bright and like nothing I’d seen before.
Unlike the wonder I experienced seeing the Christmas star, the year 2020 has been like nothing I’ve ever seen in a negative way. My family has faced more sorrow and loss than I can ever remember experiencing. In the midst of the heartache, I’ve been thinking about how to recalibrate my life to infuse more hope and habits that reflect my trust in Jesus as I enter 2021. Honestly, my heart is in need of a reset.
A friend recommended a book, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction by Justin Whitmel Earley. The book focuses on 8 habits: 4 daily habits and 4 weekly habits. Although several of these habits have been in my life for sometime, the book has inspired me to reset my heart in the new year. I want to know I’m making a fresh start even with old habits and disciplines. Here are a few habits that you may want to incorporate into your life if you are resetting your heart for the new year.
Scripture before phone. Refuse to check your phone until after reading a passage of Scripture every day. Many people have a regular habit of Scripture reading, quiet time, devotional reading, and/or journaling. In the book The Common Rule, the author encourages one to replace the question, “What do I need to do today?” to “Who am I and who am I becoming?” It causes us to focus on our true identity as a child of God. This time of Scripture before the phone reminds us of God’s faithfulness and that we have no stable identity outside of Jesus. This truth resets your heart for the day.
One meal with others per day. People often talk about family dinner time and how it is healthy for a home. Whether you live with several people or alone, the habit of making time for one communal meal each day is important. We are going to eat, so why not make sure one of those mealtimes is with others building relationships and community. Use some of these meals to reach out to neighbors, strengthen relationships, and share the gospel.
One hour when you turn off devices. We all know that you can’t be two places at the same time. We think we can multitask but do we really do it well? Per the suggestion of The Common Rule, I chose one hour daily when I turn off my phone, my computer, my TV, and any other devices. I’ve tried to use that time wisely to focus on my kids, spouse, coworker, friend, or neighbor. I’ve tried to be intentional to give them my full and undivided attention. I want to show them that they are worth my time and focus.
There are so many ways that we can reset our hearts for the new year. These are just a few that have helped me. But another significant way I’ve reset my heart is by letting go of habits, people, or things that weigh me down or hold me back from Christ. When a habit becomes so rigid, a relationship becomes unhealthy, or the focus is not honoring Christ, it may be time to let it go and leave it behind. If the habit, the person, or the task did not respect God and people it was time for me to leave it behind and move on. Psalm 112 became my focal passage in my desire to lean into righteousness. With all that came my way in 2020, Psalm 112:7 was a constant companion to my weary heart, “He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the Lord.” Sometimes one of the most courageous things you can do is leave something behind and move forward.
I’m not sure what stars aligned the year my grandmother showed us the Christmas star. Scientists say that roughly every 20 years Jupiter and Saturn get very close and appear to collide. They create what looks like a double planet or one incredible star. Interestingly, this year on December 21, 2020 there was an extremely rare occurrence that has not happened since 1226. Jupiter and Saturn were so close that they appeared together and looked much like a Christmas star or a cross. I’m not sure if we were able to see this year’s Christmas star, but thankfully, we can move forward into 2021 and the future with hope and confidence in Christ allowing Him to reset our hearts for the new year.
Michelle Hicks is the managing editor for Journey devotional magazine with Lifeway Women. Michelle served as a freelance writer, campus minister, and corporate chaplain before coming to Lifeway. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michelle has a deep hunger for God’s Word and wants others to discover the abundant life they can have with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.