New Year’s Resolutions. Ahhh. The chance to make a bunch of promises to yourself that (generally) get forgotten once the calendar says February. The world as a whole resolves to be richer, nicer, skinnier, smoke/drink/drug less, and on and on. Then somehow, we always end up right back where we started. Or worse. I’m sure just about everyone with a blog is talking about the close of the old year and the fresh start of a 2010. Oh, and this year we get the new decade too. Lucky us.
Some of the most often used resolutions in the United States are:
- Improve health: lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking
- Improve finances: get out of debt, save money
- Improve career: get a better job
- Improve education: improve grades, get a better education, learn something new (such as a foreign language or music)
- Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy, manage time, be more independent
Seems to me that as a society, we are completely self absorbed and selfish all year, then take the opportunity at the close of each year to resolve to focus on ourselves more in the next one. I understand the premise that the only person you can change is yourself, and in doing so, you change the world a little. But really. Do we really need another opportunity to resolve to be more inwardly focused? Don’t we do that on a daily basis anyway? Setting resolutions should be a chance to reflect on what we could have done better for others in the past year, not how we can do more for ourselves. And maybe, just maybe, if my goals for next year have some lasting value to something other than my waist, I’ll actually have incentive to follow thru.
Yes, I’d love to lose that last 10 pounds. It would be awesome if my husband’s paycheck ballooned. I’d love to learn to speak a little Spanish, or somehow manage to become more organized and tidy. But those things aren’t really going to have any eternal impact. In my life, or anyone around me. Nobody ever got to heaven because my house was amazingly clean. Or because I finally managed to get in the “normal” range on the stupid BMI.
What I want most this year, is to be used by God. However that looks. I want to reach the end of 2010 knowing that I did everything I could to hear His voice clearer and follow it. That probably means stepping out of my comfort zone. Living a life swimming against the current isn’t easy, it causes uncomfortable conversations and awkward moments. The last time I remember being really willing to stick out for my faith was when I was a teenager. I frequently asked people not to swear when we played basketball together. Thinking back, I was regarded (I’m sure) as being a little weird. I got “the look” a lot. I’m pretty sure talking about Jesus as an adult is going to be equally “look” inducing. Even typing this feels a little uncomfortable.
It’s a difficult thing to live with the world and yet set yourself apart from it. We all have a desire to fit in and belong. Purposefully being the odd duck flies directly in the face of all that. I’m sure it would be much easier to decide to remove myself from situations. If I am following after a path of (watch out, church word ahead) righteousness that few agree with, it only makes sense to just surround myself with the people already traveling the same path. How much simpler is it to refrain from sarcastic biting remarks when I’m with my church friends? I can’t remember the last time I saw someone overindulge in liquid happiness with their pastor. But I believe God calls us to be here – in John 17 it talks about not asking to be removed from the world, just to be protected in it. Furthermore, if we aren’t an example to others, who will be? What good is it to anyone if the salt of the world is shut up in the spice cabinet because we don’t want to get any pepper on us?
As I look back at the past decade, I see lots of ways I could have done better. And a few things I did well. The actions I regret most have nothing to do with my weight, monetary status, or how much I had to drink. No, if I could change anything in the past 10 years, it would be how I’ve lived (or not) for Christ. Basically, I’ve spent my entire adult life acting like a baby when it comes to God. Of all the resolutions I could make, this one thing will have the most impact on the lives of others. Here’s my reprimand of a resolution. “Grow up Tonya. Stop acting like an infant with no responsibilities other than yourself. There’s a world of people who are hurting and you’ve got the cure. So act like it.”