A Steel Resolve
This year has been different in a lot of obvious ways, but even outside of the pandemic and election season, I’ve been reevaluating how I prepare for the year ahead. I feel like I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about what that preparation looks like. Writing out my thoughts is how I put my brain in order, so this post is probably more for my benefit than it is yours.
Naturally, I have to start with resolutions. I, honestly, hate that word. It implies that the start of the new year is the only time you can consciously work on growing, but that growth has to involve high goals that you can’t help but give up after a week or two. This doesn’t mean I don’t think people should set goals. Goals are important for growth and change, but you can’t expect yourself to change habits in your life if you don’t have smaller changes implemented overtime to achieve your bigger goals. For example, drinking water has always been hard for me. I don’t enjoy being dehydrated, but each time I wanted to do better I’d just set this goal of “drink more water”. I’ve never made a plan for how I would actually make that happen! Just a few weeks ago, a friend sat down with me and helped me come up with an actual starting point towards being hydrated. I’m just trying to drink a water bottle a day. I started out with a fairly small water bottle and just upgraded the size a couple of days ago. My water drinking habits still aren’t where I’ve always imagined they should be, but I’m working on being proud of the small growth I’ve had and the realistic expectations I can continue to set for myself.
Another reason I’m not a fan of resolutions is how focused on change they are. You, of course, need to change to grow, but you also need room to celebrate what has already gone well. I know thinking of resolutions usually just sends me in a downward spiral of how much I’ve messed up in the past year. Yes, I haven’t been perfect (no one has!), but my life looks completely different than it did a year ago in so many good ways. I want to celebrate that and be proud of the work the Holy Spirit has done in my life! There also needs to be space to grieve what’s gone wrong that you can’t change. You don’t want to get stuck in that downward spiral which is why it’s crucial to spend time grieving with the Lord and remembering the hope of how good he is in light of what needs to be lamented. A lot happens in a year and you deserve time to sit and fully process all the good, bad, and everything in between that God has brought you through.
Resolutions also tend to be focused on yourself. The goal is to improve so we look/feel/sound better, so we ultimately fail because our self-focused goals and motivations lead to using our own strength and our strength leads to failure. In order to love Jesus well, we need strength that only he can give. He loves us so entirely and longs for us to be closer to him. So what if in our reflecting, we spent time thinking about the people we love and how they’ve grown? I am not the only person I know and it would be almost impossible to think of ways I’ve grown without remembering the people that have helped me get here. People that Jesus has intentionally placed in my life. People you know and love have helped you grow and have grown to look more like Jesus in their own ways. Reflect on that as you reflect on your own year and then share that with the people you think of! Sometimes it’s easy to get clouded by doubt and discouragement, but sharing the good you’ve seen Jesus do in a friend is an easy way to help remind them and you of love and strength that flows from him.
Again, and I can’t stress this enough, resolutions leave a sour taste in my mouth, but change is a good thing. Being more like Jesus is an everyday process that we need to lean, not on our own strength and will for, but on and unwavering and loving God for. We will fail if we’re left to our own devices. Celebrate, grieve, and ultimately grow with a community that’s going to support you and remind you of the death and resurrection of Jesus. If you want some more direction for going about reflecting and preparing in some alone time, Jennie Allen has a helpful Life Inventory PDF that I’m definitely going to spend a few days going through. I don’t know exactly what this next year will look like, but I do know that God is going to continue doing incredible work.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.”