A New Year - It's Failures and Fresh Starts

Long ago I gave up on the New Year’s Resolution thing. After too many years of failure by about mid-March, I decided, setting a goal for the year was too hard and disappointing. I'm sure many of you are with me on this. Often the goal was to lose weight, eat better, cut out sugar, be less critical, be a better cook, nag my kids less, read the Bible in a year. On and on it went. I always started off well but never could seem to go longer than a couple months. I had the best of intentions. But failure loomed around the corner and disappointment set in. “Why bother”? Quitting is always easier than succeeding. There are fewer steps to quitting.

So, I'm trying something new this year. I'm focusing on a singular daily question that shapes my day, rather than focusing on a yearly goal. Every morning I’m asking myself “who do I want to be today?” Then I set out to be that person. Do I want to be a child of God who passionately knows and loves Jesus? Then I will spend time at His feet, reading His word, praying, letting Him speak to my heart. Do I want to be a wife who honors her husband? Then I will show him respect in how I speak to him, I’ll make him lunch with a smile, I’ll listen well as he shares about his day. I won't correct his way of doing things. Do I want to be a mom who unconditionally loves her son? Then I will hold my tongue when I’m disappointed and hug him instead, I’ll seek him out when he’s hidden away to tell him I love him, I will show my appreciation for the small attempts he makes to do what I ask. Do I want to be healthy and energetic? Then I will do one thing today that is a step in the right direction. I’ll walk the extra few blocks, I’ll skip the dessert, I’ll go to bed earlier, I’ll drink more water. Because being a good steward of my body honors the Lord who created me. I find that when I make intentional choices each day about who I want to be it's less daunting, I’m more forgiving of myself if I didn't quite get there, and my focus is just on today, not 5 months from now. The goals don’t seem so unattainable but rather within my reach. It also refocuses my attention, not on what I want to be or achieve, but who God made me to be.

If you are a resolution setter and you've seen great success – I applaud you and encourage you to keep at it. I'd like to be you when I grow up! I would love to attend your Ted Talk. And there is nothing wrong with setting goals and working toward accomplishment. But, if you struggle like me, maybe this daily question will help you to reshape your goals. It is possible at the end of the day to look back and be disappointed that you didn't do the things you set out to do. But if your goal is to BE rather than DO there is grace. Being is far more satisfying than doing because it's eternal. Doing is temporal. If my goal is to do things differently, I will end up discouraged because the “thing” is the prize (the ideal weight, the finished project). When I base my actions on the kind of person I want to be, my motivation is not the doing of the action and accomplishing a task, it is becoming more like Christ and honoring Him with how I live. It’s a perspective shift – and it might be the thing that brings about the change we need. Jesus never taught us to adopt the "new year, new you" philosophy. He did teach us to live each day for Him, to commit our ways to Him, to fix our eyes on Him. When we do that our desires shift. So when we ask "who do I want to be today" the answer is "More Like Jesus!" That answer shapes our choices.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on resolutions and what’s worked and what hasn’t. And if you decide to ask yourself, “Who do I want to be today” let me know what changes come about. We walk the journey together, my friend.

Happy New Year – let us cease the striving and the getting after and focus more on living in the presence of the One who makes all things new.

Ecclesiastes 1:14 – I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.

Psalm 46:10 – Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Philippians 1:27 – Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

Luke 10:39 – And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.