New Year’s resolutions for me are usually just a statement that I make to participate in the cultural phenomenon. I get that there is always a plus to verbalize a goal for oneself. I get the idea that if you say something out loud, than you also open yourself up to some form of accountability as others are anticipating your accomplishment. I also get that a large percentage of us rarely accomplish the achievement of our goals. I admit, I made it farther last year in my goal than I had in many years gone by, but it still did not make it through the entire year.
As I am digesting all that has happened to us over the course of the past year, I know that the year before me will be all the more adventurous and surprising. So as I debated this deep and condescending self-awareness where we then promise some fictional accountability partner to strive towards improvements…often things we are incapable of achieving in the amount of time we deem measurable, I realized that creating a resolution would be setting myself up for failure. Do I commit to do exercise better? Do I commit to write more? Do I resolve to be a better parent? Do I surrender to my peanut butter addiction? No. This is not what it is about. If anything, I am in the throes of learning that my self-discipline is so much more than verbalizing a commitment. Resolutions should not be a decision you make because you looked in the mirror and just decided, ok this year I will work on my love handles. It shouldn’t be a situation where you treat January 1st like Fat Tuesday and smoke every last cigarette in your carton because you are going to quit tomorrow. There is something lost in this protocol…more than indulgence.
When you resolve to make a change in yourself, it should have a reason far more than just, well, it’s bad for you. We listen to society and determine what we need to fix and follow the flow. Here’s a thought. Maybe this year, you don’t need to focus on keeping up with Weight Watcher points? Think about it. Is the strained commitment to maintaining this promise you made to some imaginary New Year’s Fairy causing you to miss out on the bigger picture? Are you so consumed with trying to maintain this pledge that you are stressed and unable to be the person that God needs? We create this very noble ideal to improve ourselves only to spend way too much time and money that distracts us all the more.
Now, I am not saying that we should all go eat a box of ice cream sandwiches with a six pack and lay in front of the TV watching the same episodes of the Walking Dead for days on end. Got it? I am not promoting a lifestyle of excess freedom and indulging in the “deadly” sins. Far from it.
My year began with a new approach to self-improvement. I sought the Lord, to take my issues that are complicated and make them blessed. Does that seem weird? It should. As I said before, we take this monumental moment each year to reflect upon what we do not like about our life and about ourselves. This year is different. This year I have nixed the word resolution. This year I have taken this time in my predetermined cultural pause to reflect upon shortcomings and acknowledge the blessings that coincide with them.
Let me see if I can make it more like crystal and less like mud. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. This year, my family of 4 and some change moved to a new city. This was difficult for us in many ways as we removed ourselves from the only home our youngest had ever known and we removed ourselves from family. We both left good jobs and a nice home along with dear friends. Yet, I will tell you that my heart never felt more peace and contentment. God took the relationships that were of great value to us and has strengthened them making the time when we are together no longer something we take for granted, but something that is anticipated with enormous joy and cherished as a blessing.
My husband has a chronic illness. Although I am not near in the same boat as he is in, I walk alongside him. Each battle he encounters is different and each one provides a new way to bring glory to God. When I sit and document all of the different challenges we have had with his illness just in the time that we have been married, I can recall a different person that has made a change in how they view the gift of life and the establishment of faith because of Jeremy’s witness. Jeremy has always prayed that the Lord would use his life to make God famous. He is doing just that.
My children teach me every day with their life encounters and create in me the very awareness that though parenting is hard, I have children to parent. When I struggle with a behavioral issue, yes for those of you who think my kids are grand, they have their moments of being toots, I have realized this new year that their behavioral issues are something that is a blessing. I have kids. There are many who do not and deeply desire to have them. When I encounter children who are behavioral problems and not being “parented,” my frustration rises as I am aware they are not aware of how to behave because there is an absence in their life. I am thankful for my two and am aware that they will one day be in charge of their own. I am modeling for them what to do and I am charged to do it well.
My battle with respect of self is an ongoing one as a female. However, this realization of vanity v. preservation came to me many years ago. Instead of committing to lose “x” pounds or to adjust this flab, it is my responsibility to ensure that my body is fit for the fight. In other words, I am thankful that my knees and hips and ankles still allow me to run for my exercise. After many years of sports, I should probably be experiencing more pain than I do and I count each day as a blessing in my routine. Yet, I know that if I am to maintain energy to work, to go, to serve, than I must be good to this temple of which I have been given. So my battle is a blessing. I run so I can serve.
What is your battle? What did you choose to surrender to the New Year’s Fairy? Maybe you can make your goal more reasonable by deciding the why is that you have a calling, not a societal compromise. See your blessings and not your curses. May today be a day of great resolve for you.