New Year’s Resolutions and the Myth of Change

When I opened my mailbox yesterday, a bunch of weight-loss ads fell out.

The day before that, I saw a big display at my local grocery store of exercise equipment and healthy-eating books.  And every article and ad I’ve come across on the Internet has been geared around how to eat better, how to manage money better, how to travel more in the new year, how to be a better father, mother, employee, spouse.

‘Tis the season for resolutions, and for failing them, too.

I get why people do it.  What cleaner, fresher, better beginning is there than the start of a new year?  The time seems ripe to do something you’ve wanted to do for a while: the start of 2017 is a motivator.  In the new year, we have the sense that it’s “the right time” to do something amazing.

But I’ve grown wary of New Year’s resolutions over the years.  One reason is because they’re often incredibly narcissistic and self-centered, focused on improving “me” or “my life”  or giving me an excuse to focus even more on myself when I do that plenty enough already.  We’ve all been the victim of newfound runners and dieters and travelers whose Facebook feeds or emails or texts all become self-serving signposts of devotion to their new practice, hobby, or habit, and we’ve all rolled our eyes at how self-centered it all is.

The second reason I’m wary of New Year’s resolutions is because they tend to propagate failure.  The “fresh new start” of January is often in a muddle by February, and people – feeling that they’ve already failed too far or damaged too much of the pristine slate of the new year – often give up not even a quarter of the way through.

The thing is, my new starts and life-changing resolutions have never happened at the beginning of the year.  God did a significant overhaul on my life the August before last, and that one stuck; this past year He’s been weaning me off of the internet and into a myriad of new projects, and that stuck.  Neither happened in January; both only stuck like they did because they were God-spawned and God-intended.

The same is true for you.

Mark my word: things will change for you this year.  The person you will be at the cusp of 2018 will not be, God willing, the same person who walked into 2017.  God doesn’t work in years, anyway; He has plans for you and ideas for shaping you that He has been managing for the entirety of your lifetime.  At some point, you’re going to want to try something new.  Or maybe you’ll want to drop something old.  You’ll get an idea, or a sudden conviction to do something.  You’ll see a Scripture in a new way.  A hurt or a joy will mold you into someone closer to the you that you were made to be.

Don’t get all caught up in the resolution-frenzy of the New Year.  Be ready to change whenever God requires it – in January, or mid-April, or October, or at the beginning of December.  If you have an idea or a hope or a goal that feels God-spawned then just start it, whenever it occurs to you.  New ministries and God-events doesn’t always happen nearly at the turn of a month or a year; they don’t kick off in the spring and subside by the fall.

If you have a resolution this year, let it be this: to be ready when your moment comes.  To step out in faith.  To do the wonderful, quiet, hopeful thing that God placed in your heart and that you can’t stop thinking about – whenever the time is right and He prompts you to move.

My most fervent prayers for a new year full of God’s joyful surprises for you, and full of new ways for you to live and love for Him.

 

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