Generally, when it comes to the New Year, we like to forget the bad things that happened in the past year and look forward to positive things in the New. Or sometimes people take this time of year to remember the best of the previous year. Orthodox spiritual writers, however, think there is good reason to remember past sins – not to feed shame and self-loathing, but to help us repent. Repentance means change – to move in a new direction. Remembering our past sins, reminds us not to be so quick to judge others in their sins and failures. Rather, remembering our past failures can help us sustain a healthy humility in our selves as well as patience, empathy and mercy for others as we see them wrestle with their own sins and temptations. We can learn how to bear with one another as well as how to bear one another’s burdens (Romans 15:1; Galatians 6:2). New Year’s resolutions can include remembering our past sins so that we don’t repeat them but rather learn from them so that we will be the better person from now on.
But, my brethren, let us not forget our offences, even if we wrongly think that they have been forgiven through repentance; let us always remember our sinful acts and never cease to mourn over them, so that we may acquire humility as our constant companion, and thus escape the snares of self-esteem and pride. (St Theodoros the Great Ascetic, The Philokalia, Kindle Loc. 11216-24)