Greater NW Pride: New Year’s Resolutions in 2019


New Year’s Resolutions in 2019 

In an article from Psychology Today, “Why We Really Celebrate New Year’s Day,” writer David Ropeik writes that New Year’s Day is, logically, simply the movement of the clock, from Monday to Tuesday. However, we put special, symbolic, and emotional charge to it, making one day “2018” and the next day, “2019.” The reason we celebrate New Year’s Day is something that is ubiquitous, tied to something intrinsic to or in our DNA as human beings, in which we give all our energy and resources to the effort to make good on a fresh set of resolutions, rooted in one of the most powerful motivations of all—our motivation to survive. One day we use to look back, reflect, take stock and think about all the things that happened.  The next day, we resolve—or make a lot of “resolves”—to make things better as we go forward" (Dec. 30, 2013).
So, about those resolutions… Ropeik continues: “New Year’s Resolutions are examples of the universal human desire to have some control over what lies ahead, because the future is unsettlingly unknowable.  Not knowing what’s to come means we don’t know what we need to know to keep ourselves safe. To counter that worrisome powerlessness, we do things to take control. We resolve to diet and exercise, to quit smoking, and to start saving.  It doesn’t even matter whether we hold our resolve and make good on these promises. Committing to them, at least for a moment, gives us a feeling of more control over the uncertain days to come.” In the end, we make a resolution for a new year in order to survive and go forward in life. And in order to honor that resolution, the Dutch eat donuts, the Greeks bake special Vassilopitta cake with a coin inside, while others, like the Chinese, have fireworks to ward off evil spirits (Ropeik). 
In my work as the LGBTQ Advocacy Coordinator, I get the sense that many United Methodists, on all sides of the LGBTQ discussion and possible “ways forward” and “status quo” plans, are unsure of what will happen in 2019 with the specially called General Conference of the UMC. Since I took this position in February 2018, “February 2019” has felt like the sword of Damocles hanging over the denomination. Yet, finally, the decision regarding the place and presence of LGBTQ people in leadership, membership, and in marriage within the UMC will be decided upon this year. This is good! There is hope that the UMC will “survive”, in some form or fashion, after the discussion, though the UMC will not look or be the same as it is pre-Feb. 2019.  Just ask us Presbyterians, or Lutherans, Moravians, UCC folk, Unitarians, Disciples of Christ, and Episcopalians. This is good! So, UMC friends, consider what Ropeik writes in terms of the only way to reassure ourselves against the “scariest thing in the future, (and) the only sure thing that lies ahead, the inescapable reality” before us... (it is by passing) the donuts, the Vassilopitta, lighting the fireworks," and raising a glass of Welches' grape juice to toast: "To Our Survival!”

Brett Webb-Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at brett@umoi.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!