NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS are a lot like smartphones. Some people hate them, other people think they are beneficial, and then there are the people who practically go insane if they don’t have one.
Would you like to know the correct solution for both? That’s right folks! I’m giving you a two-for-one in my very first article. You’re welcome!
Now I’m sure you’re probably asking, “What could smartphones and New Year’s resolutions possibly have in common?”
The answer is simple. Neither are as good or as bad people make them out to be. In fact, we’re not even addressing the real issue. When all is said and done, the problem with both of these controversial subjects is the same. People. We are the problem and the benefit. Just as a smartphone is nothing without the person controlling it, resolutions are equally vacant without the person resolving to do them.
Mine is a love-hate relationship when it comes to resolutions. When done correctly they can be valuable and productive, but when they are not, they often become cheap solutions for a legitimate problem—band-aids for a broken leg.
So how do we avoid this? Something that I have personally found helpful is what I like to call the Three R’s. Resolve, remember, and rely. Let’s dive a little deeper into each one…
Resolve to address the right issues.
I think we can all agree that the most popular resolutions normally have something to do with living healthier. Whether it’s promising to eat food that tastes like cardboard or attempting to work-out regularly at the gym, people have this obsession with using the upcoming year to fling aside their unhealthy habits. Not that it’s a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with finding ways to better yourself, but are you “bettering” the right areas for the right reasons?
Sometimes instead of resolving to do specific things we need to resolve the flaws in our character from which these issues are leaking. For example, perhaps your unhealthy status derives from lack of self-control or the fact that you’ve been less than diligent when it comes to your health (been there, done that). In that case, simply resolving to eat salad for the rest of the year isn’t going to fix what is truly wrong.
This can be applied to all forms of resolutions, not just health. When you repair the correct aspects of your character, you will find that the majority of your resolutions will come more naturally. The key to fixing a problem is finding its source. I’m challenging you all as well as myself. Resolve to address your character! Mend the flaws and improve the strengths. Your “outside” life will blossom all the more for it.
2 Peter 1:5-7 has a very excellent verse in regards to character development. It says, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”
Remember that your resolutions should not define you. You define your resolutions.
Several years ago I typed out pages and pages of resolutions that I was determined to accomplish that year. I was so pleased with myself. This was going to be the year where I got my act together and everything went according to plan. Spoiler alert. It didn’t happen. A couple months into the year, I felt like a total failure. Not only was everything going wrong, but I couldn’t figure out why.
Well the first problem was that I had set expectations for myself that, deep down, I knew I couldn’t reach. I imagined that I would become this perfect, brand new person overnight. Secondly, and most importantly, I let my failures define the rest of my year. I bit into the lie that since I had started poorly, I couldn’t finish strong. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anything worth accomplishing never really starts the way we expect or want it to. Why? Because that’s life! And because God knows better than to give us exactly what we want. He sees the curves in the road ahead that we don’t and adjusts our course accordingly to help us arrive at the destination. This can feel like failure at times, but it’s really not. My good friend Ashley did a wonderful article about this subject a couple weeks ago.
Rely on God. Because your resolutions cannot save you.
Another problem with New Year’s resolutions is that people see them as this supernatural answer for all of life’s problems. Thing is, we already have someone who matches that job description perfectly. The Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can fix, mend, and reassemble our imperfections.
Putting faith in our resolutions is like leaning against a toothpick and expecting it uphold the load. There is nothing on this Earth that can withstand the weight of our burdens the way our Savior does. Not only can He withstand the weight, but He can lift it completely from our shoulders and erase it from our lives. No other worldly comfort can do this for us.
As the song so effectively states, “Our God is an awesome God.” It pains Him when we push away His almighty arm to reach for this life’s fleeting securities. He wants to guide us. He wants to be our shelter. He wants to fight for us. But He also gave us the freedom of choice. So will you choose Him or the toothpick?
As you sit down with your pen and paper this year to scribble down all of your goals for 2017, I encourage you to stop for a moment. Keep in mind the three R’s. Resolve, remember, and rely. Let your resolutions lean on Christ, and, as a result, they will cause you to shine for Him more brightly than ever.
May your new year be filled to the brim with God’s many adventures.
P.S. What kind of character-growth resolutions do you think would be helpful for the upcoming year? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear suggestions from all of you!