I read about a school principal who invited all her teachers to submit their New Year's resolutions to be put on a bulletin board. Right after posting them she heard a commotion as the teachers gathered around the board to read each other's resolutions. She went to see what was wrong. One teacher was complaining, "Why weren't my resolutions posted?" He was making such a fuss the principal hurried back to her office to see if she had missed one. Sure enough she found it on the floor. As she returned to add it to the others she was amazed to read the first resolution this teacher had listed: Not let little thing upset him in the New Year.
Wouldn't it be great if all we had to do was name what we wanted to be changed in our lives and it automatically happened? Sometimes I wish God worked more like Santa Claus or a Magic Genie. Just state my wishes and they come true. But faith never removes effort.
You may not be a resolutions maker but hopefully we all want to get better in some way. If there are improvements we want to see happen in this new year, I encourage you to keep these things in mind:
- There is a new part of us always ready to emerge. Be careful about speaking old definitions of ourselves into our futures: "I've always been...," "That's just the way I am...," "I'll never be..." God is working on a new you right now. It's not automatic. We have a part to play. What is the part of yourself you would love to see emerge that you believe God would be excited about helping make happen? Focus on that person.
- Accept relapses. They say most diets get abandoned at the first error. We eat something we shouldn't and feel that because we've blown it the whole effort is for naught. When I'm hiking I typically have many stumbles along the way. I trip over a rock. I slip down a ledge. But I fall in the direction of my goal. Whatever your goal, just know that a fall doesn't mean a change in direction.
- Remember the number of days in the year: 1. Sure the calendar counts 365, but we are only guaranteed the one we have. Instead of focusing on how we will keep a discipline going for a week or month, just focus on the day, and sometimes, hour at hand.
- Keep a right list. Instead of tracking the times you mess up, make a list of the times you do/say the things that reflect the you, you want to be. The more times we can go to bed at night holding onto the better parts of our nature, the more we can wake up feeling positive about ourselves the next day.
As the old saying goes, "I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be."
Here's to the places God will take us in 2019.