Happy New Year. It’s that time of year again when everybody is coming up with vows and commitments to make some meaningful changes in their lives during the coming year.
New Year’s Resolutions will be made by an estimated 44% of adults across the country. The most popular ones? Maybe they sound familiar:
Learn Something New
Spend Less/Save More
Unfortunately, according to surveys, only about 8% of people actually keep their resolutions after the first six months of the year, with 36% dropping out after only one month.
So, more often than not, New Year’s resolutions become just another forgotten vow you make to yourself after a momentary period of self-awareness brought on by a date on a calendar.
Personally, I don’t believe in making resoultions. To me, the timing is all wrong, the focus is all wrong, the motivation and the process is all wrong. The reasons are all wrong.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Let me start by saying that I’m a big believer in personal development and growth. I believe it’s my lifelong job to constantly assess and re-evaluate myself and target areas and items for improvement, elimination, addition, and change. I don’t view this “job” as a chore. I view it as an adventure. I view it as a calling and I think it’s something God instilled in me.
In fact, I think God instills this desire to be better, to be more Christ-like, in all His children. He is best served when we strive for that righteousness that brings us closer to Him.
Before I accepted Christ I always wanted to vaguely be a “better” person and a “good” person. After I accepted Christ in my life, I was given the gift of greater focus and clarity in these matters. I could understand my internal landscape better and had a clearer vision of the things I needed to clean up, clear out, improve upon, obtain, and even transform. The Holy Spirit now dwelling in me gave me the gift of conviction when I veered off course. Instead of me being the navigator, Grace became my guide.
New Year’s resolutions are also, almost by definition, very “I” focused and self-driven. “I want more, I want less, I must, I will…”. They are also usually very self-image driven. “I want to LOOK better. I want to HAVE more. I want to DO things”. I think they need to be more God driven. What does God require of you? What does God need of you? What can you change to serve Him better? If the answer to that is God wants me to be healthy, to treat my body better, and to have more energy in the service of others and in the glorification of His name, and if that means quitting smoking, then that’s your “resolution”. It shouldn’t be “I want to lose weight so I can fit in those pants I saw at the mall that are going to make me look sexy.”
I don’t think meaningful change takes place when it’s an appointment you make on the calendar. It’s an everyday deal. It’s the source of continuous focus. It’s what you pray about. Sure there’s that one day that you literally begin, but if you’re doing it right, you begin, not because the calendar said so, but because you have been heading towards this beginning with God and the day has come.
True, lasting, and meaningful change (and therefore personal growth) really only happens when you are completely ready and willing. For some that willingness comes as a result of hitting a personal bottom. For some it is the result of staring nose to nose with the basement floor and realizing it’s time to look up.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
In my experience, lasting and transformative change absolutely must involve God. It’s not a matter of how hard you need to try to make the change. It’s more about aligning yourself with the will of the Creator and completely surrendering to that will.
That’s not to say that making personal change is something you sit around and pray for and wait for God to give to you. There’s hard work involved. But it needs to be God-directed work. Ask Him to help you. Surrender yourself 100%. Align yourself with what He wants you to do about it. And work your butt off to help Him help you. Not sure what God’s will for you is or what He specifically wants you to do? My answer to that is that it’s always best to begin the journey, make every effort, demonstrate every willingness, and meet God halfway. Somewhere in the process of moving forward towards change, God will let you know what you need to do.
The biggest and most miraculous changes, improvement, and leaps of growth I’ve experienced had everything to do with God working in my life and me cooperating, rather than me scheduling an appointment to change and praying that it worked. The had everything to do with me getting out of the chair and working to meet God and His will. The number one reason I see people fail in the changes they try to make is because they don’t include God. I’ve successfully risen above addictions to alcohol, drugs, smoking, and more. I’ve learned to be an honest man and not a manipulative one. I’ve learned to give more than I take. The changes have been profound. Impossible. Miraculous.
I know for I fact it wasn’t ME who did the lifting. It was a loving and gracious God who carried me up and made me grow.