Today is the very last day of the year. Was it a good one for you? Or was it hard? Isn’t that often the same thing? But with the end of one year and the dawn of another, it seems customary for many people to make resolutions to improve things in their lives they are unhappy with.
Thinking on this tradition has left me with a few thoughts about the whole process. First of all, if we know that we need to change something in our lives, why do we procrastinate until the very last day of the year and then ‘resolve’ to change it…next year? I don’t mean that question to sound like I’m against making resolutions for the new year but nevertheless, it doesn’t make much sense to continue on doing what ought not be done and leave it to a mere resolve to change it the next year. We are guaranteed only the breath we take right now, why not make the moments count and truly live?
Speaking of procrastinating, how many New Year resolutions do we ever keep for more than a few weeks or a few months? Can you remember your resolutions from last year? If you can, you’re one up on me – I can’t even remember if I made a halfhearted resolution of any kind at all! If you do remember, did you accomplish them? Judging by my own experiences and also from many of the commentary on resolutions I’ve heard and read, most of the resolutions are nothing more than vocal fantasy. Nothing ever seems to come of them. A nice thought that goes out the window when the rubber meets the road.
Could it be because the resolutions are flawed? The greatest commandment is to love God with all our being. The second is to love our neighbour as our self. Resolutions typically focus on our self, ignoring the two greatest commandments. And I’m not saying we ought not to focus on our self. I’m pondering whether we might enjoy a lot more success with our resolutions if we worked on things in the right order. It’s an interesting thought.
Now that I mention work it brings another thought to mind: resolutions involve work. That thing that few of us enjoy doing. Fixing something in our lives that needs to be fixed means (usually) there is going to be some unpleasant and often painful work involved. When we get to the point of actually tackling the problem we have to decide whether the pain of the work is worth what we are trying to accomplish. And often there is no guarantee that we will actually accomplish the goal. All that work and discomfort for nothing? Sounds like it would be easier to keep things the way they are after all!
The last thought I have about New Year resolutions is that most resolutions are far too broad and overwhelming. A few that I can think of at the moment are: losing weight, getting closer to God, being a better wife/mother/woman. These are excellent goals but how? How much weight? Closer to God how? What does it mean to be a better wife/mother/woman? Wouldn’t we set ourselves up for a far greater chance at succeeding if we set goals that we can actually define and measure and then draw up an action plan to get there?
Losing weight could be much easier to work at if we put a number to it, like five pounds. Then decide, in the context of our particular life circumstances, how to go about doing that. Getting closer to God would be far easier to do if we decided how to get closer to God – maybe a Bible reading plan? A specific prayer time? A particular study? Being a better wife/mother/woman might be easier to accomplish if we picked one or a few things in particular to work on. Maybe we need to work on speaking more softly. Maybe we need to work on being more consistent with enforcing certain rules. Maybe we need to establish set meal times and bed times. Maybe we need to get down on the floor and just play with the children. Perhaps establish a regular date night? Read a marriage book or two and practice what we learn?
We’re each a work in progress and when a new year dawns, it is so exhilarating – this brand new, clean canvas to live life on. It sometimes leaves us feeling like we can do anything and our resolutions often reflect that. But then as the days go on, it starts to feel a lot like all the years before – a lot of boring and dreary, monotonous work with little bursts of new and exciting; and the resolutions get shelved.
Personally, I’m going to be writing a few things down that I want to focus on improving this year. And I want to try to do it in the right order. Focus on God first. I do want to get closer to God. And I want to love my family, friends, even strangers, a lot more. The way I see it, all my resolutions’ success hinge on God first. So, I’m off to ponder exactly how I should be getting closer to God this next year and exactly how I can improve in loving others better. And a few other things.
Are you going to join me?
I would love to hear about your resolution stories of the past and if you are doing anything of the sort for this next year.
My prayer and hope is that, if He hasn’t already, God draws you to Himself and blesses you with the gift of salvation and a clean heart no matter what else you want for this year. If you are saved then I hope that you grow ever closer to God.