Hard-Wired for Fresh Starts (and Placemats)

I’d wager that, in my lifetime, at least one-hundred placemats have ended up in my shopping cart, on my table, and then tossed into my give-away pile (which always clocks a few hundred miles before going to Goodwill or, lately, the Airman’s Attic).

One-hundred placemats translates to about twenty-five or sixteen sets, depending on how many you plan on for dinner. Sixteen to twenty-five sets isn’t all that many, but okay. Yes. I do have a problem. With contentment? Sure. With a weakness for pretty prints? Absolutely. Even though I think I’ve found the right set for all-times, I’ll still be on the hunt in a few months for something prettier, something more unique, and something that meets both of those criteria while being completely machine washable.

But more than a contentment problem, it’s an addiction problem. An addiction to “newness.” I am addicted to “new” things: journals and planners and new seasons and new places to live (no offense, Alabama). Not that you can buy seasons or assignments, but it’s the appeal of something fresh and different that draws me to the clearance aisles or gets me bright-eyed when the promise of moving wavers on the horizon.

Why are new things, like a brand new year and a brand new decade, so attractive? Like the new Moleskine journals that ended up in my house this morning, it’s that empty page feeling. Anything is possible when the sun rises on a new year or when the pen hovers above the blank page. Man, I even love to read about God creating for the first time. Then, the instant you make any kind of mark on anything new, the luster fades. By the end of the page, you see not possibility, but a rambling on of words that simply fell short.

God is all about new things, but he doesn’t toss things into the give away pile when they get marred or fall short. Even when he flushed out the corruption of Noah’s day and age, he kept a few good people and the bare bones of the earth to restart afresh. No, God has a different view of “new” than we do. With him, it’s more about the entire process; he had the end in mind even from the sparkly new beginning.

I’m not sure how the search for the perfect placemat set ties in here, but, I will say I bought a small sewing machine with my Christmas money and my aim is to make my own dang placemats because I’ll never find precisely what I’m after anyway. While I can hardly wait to look for the right fabric, I can guarantee you I’ll stop feeling excited when my brain struggles to relearn sewing. I’ll feel tempted to give up and start new, again.

While I believe we are hard-wired for fresh starts, and for good reason, I also believe we too often overlook the beauty of the entire process. Ugly mistakes and bad days and all. The end of things can be just as magical.

Friend, every new year (and new whatever) will fall short of your wildest expectations. It will likely fall short an hour or two after it starts, but please don’t give up. Please don’t hold out for next year. You already know how that goes, right? God’s mercies are new every morning starting now. You don’t even have to wait for the literal morning to experience all his mercy offers.


  1. Helen

    Lovely words and funnily enough just what I have been thinking about today. Also if you fancy a friend to come fabric shopping and sew some placemats with, I’m your girl!


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