1. It’s January. The worst possible month to set yourself new challenges. Focus instead on breathing, staying warm and digestion. If you really must, then December 28 is an excellent day for Life Change – and – goodness me, it’s a whole year away.
2. You don’t need a guilt-inducing list or a chorus of Auld Lang Sang to make change possible. You’ve got the Holy Spirit, which means that every day a new start. If it’s something you need to do, then you are free to do it now. Not on the 31st December or the 1st of January. Not on your own, sweating in a soulness gym. But in God’s time, in His grace and with the love and support of others.
3. As a Christian, change is a matter of stepping into who you already are, (but haven’t quite caught up with). Most days, I don’t feel like a holy, precious and dearly loved princess. But according to the gospel, that’s more true than “overwhelmed small child caught in grown-up’s body,” “Britain’s worst wife” or “The Girl Who Never Calls Her Mother.”
4. My motivations for NY resolutions tend to suck. Guilt. Wanting to Prove Myself. Feeling Like I Oughta. Nagging discontent: usually with the wrong things, (Wobbly thighs versus Gentleness, Looking good versus well – any inner growth that requires discomfort). For example. This morning I read a bit of the Sermon on the Mount and thought I’d make it into a prayer. With a few amendments:
Please help me to be poor in spirit. No, wait. That’s a bit much. Help me not to be scared of being poor in spirit. If it’s absolutely, 100% necessary and there’s really absolutely no other way.
I don’t want to be mourning Lord, as I don’t like being sad, but I would like your comfort. Help me to be meek and to hunger and thirst for righteousness, (but not too thirsty or hungry as I’m grumpy when my blood sugar drops). I don’t mind you making me more merciful, (when it’s reasonable). And peaceful – or at least, a bit less argumentative. I really don’t want to be persecuted. But help me to pray for those who are. Amen.”
I’m a spiritual wimp. Faced with the possibility of actual, worthwhile challenge, of course I’m going to substitute it with something I can do by myself. Paint some drawers. Organise my in-box. Resolutions that don’t matter. Resolutions I can keep.
5. Resolutions tend to be focused on the end goal. But in my experience, what matters most is the getting there. Especially when it’s a goal that keeps evolving, like “recovery” or “being brave.” Plus, failing at a goal, doesn’t mean failing as a person – but this is hard to remember.
6. Some resolutions are negative or plain meaningless. “Giving up” or “stopping.” Trying “harder” to be “nicer.” May as well be more purple.
7. They’re all about me. Which is not where I want to spend 2015.
My big problem is that they make something we HAVE – newness – into a carrot to be dangled before us. All the while we beat ourselves with the will-powered law-stick. We forget that newness is ours in Jesus and then we feed the lie that newness is in us (if we only try hard enough).
BUT… if you know that you’re a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17); if you know that you’re loved already (1 John 3:1); if you know that the grace of the gospel is the power to live a new life (Romans 6:4); if you know that the Spirit within you bring a different kind of newness to the resolutions of the flesh (Romans 7:6)… then resolutions can be great. But don’t make them because there’s a new year. Do it because there’s a new you. Already.