Greetings from the time vortex that is the week between Christmas and New Year! Two days ago, I was talking with my boss and he said, “Have a great weekend, we will talk on Monday,” and I thought, “Wow, he’s confused. It’s only Thursday.” It wasn’t. It was Friday. At 4:50pm. My brain no longer works, I have no idea what day it is, and I’ve spent the week digging socks out of toilets with plastic spoons and rubbing cream on a tiny bottom because of an ailment that struck a little one (the details of which you for sure don’t want to know). Oh, and I’ve worn real pants maybe twice. Heya 2018, we’re going out with a bang!
This, of course, is the time of year where everyone swears their days of binge eating, binge-watching, and binge-worrying are on their last legs. Plans are made for Whole 30, gym donations (oops, memberships) skyrocket, and we resolve to be better than we were the previous year. As one year ends, we often look back and alternate between feelings of gratitude and the sincere hope that the coming year will not be a repeat of our hardest moments. We pull ourselves up, make our resolutions to do better and be better, and for a moment we feel in control of our lives again.
There is nothing wrong with making resolutions. We should be growing, changing, and setting goals for our lives. In fact, I wish that I had kept more than only one resolution during my 34 years on earth! The subtle danger lies in using resolutions as a way to feel secure, in control, and to puff ourselves up. We can begin to settle into thought patterns like:
If I exercise daily, no major illness will hit me.
If I travel more, I will be fulfilled.
If I quit eating sugar, I will lose weight and be happier.
We sometimes (not always) set healthy, wonderful goals for ourselves, and then give them a flimsy foundation on which to stand. We try to control things that we simply cannot. It’s good to eat well and exercise, and it does give us a statistical advantage health-wise, but it cannot guarantee a problem-free year. Traveling is a fun adventure, but if we look to experiences to fulfill us, they may for a time but they will ultimately fall short. And losing weight might be necessary and positive, but it will not create sustained happiness.
What if we approached resolutions differently this year, though? What if we rooted them in a foundation that is as firm as the most unshakable, unbreakable, and unmoving rock you can find? We may be chasing a “New Year, New Me” but there is One who has no need to make resolutions or to change. Jesus Christ is same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb 13:8, NIV) He created us and gave us the command to love God and love others. (Mark 12:30-31) What if we framed our resolutions in light of that command? Doing this creates a subtle but important shift in our thinking:
If I exercise daily, I am loving God by honoring the body He gave me, and loving my family by doing what I can to be healthy and active so that I can play and have energy for our life.
If I travel more, I can love God by praying for the new people I meet, and love others by seeking to serve them and share the Gospel wherever I go.
If I learn a new language, I can love God and others by serving people with that skill through an ESL class or other opportunities.
When we have a purpose that is higher than our own self, life is breathed into our resolutions. When that purpose and motivation is an unshakable, unchanging God, we have a firm place to land if circumstances in our life suddenly change and make it impossible to pursue our resolution, either temporarily or permanently.
The truth is, no one on this earth knows what the coming year will bring. Google cannot tell you and neither can your closest friends or your bank account. The only thing we can really rely on is the fact that we love and serve a God who does not change. His promises will remain true, regardless of what is to come. He will love us, be with us, and never forsake us. Let’s use this time of resolution-making to honor Him, love Him, and dream about how we can serve His people in 2019. Love to you, friends. And happy New Year!