When I was younger, I remember trying to make New Year’s resolutions. I quickly learned that I was the resolution-making type...but the resolution-keeping type? Not so much. So, for much of my adult life, I refused to make New Year’s resolutions because they only served as blatant reminders of my impending failure and general ineptness at being Someone Who Has All Her Stuff Together.
As I grew older, I had a change of heart. I embraced my lifelong struggle with discipline and cautiously allowed New Year’s resolutions a highly modified reentry into my life. In my middle-aged wisdom, I knew that I might improve in my weakness, but I would never become a paragon of self-disciplined virtue.
Today, however, in my reflections upon the past year and the one that encroaches upon us, I had a revelation: my difficulties with resolutions lay not in the resolutions themselves, but in my motivations for even having them in the first place.
I realized that I proposed them either out of guilt or out of discontent. I felt I was either a wretched, problematic creature that needed to be whipped into shape, or I was a deficient one--not good enough at something, or achieving enough in something, or possessing enough of something. I’m no researcher, but I’m pretty sure there’s evidence to be had that neither guilt nor discontent are effective, healthy long-term motivators for change.
I came across this video, which led me to a new resolution--just a single, simple one:
REMEMBER “I AM”
This is a double-duty resolution--you get 2 for 1 (and who doesn't like a freebie?)! First, it reminds me that, just as it is no longer 2017, I am no longer who I once was. I am no longer the old me, not because I have grown up, or because the pages of a calendar have been torn away, but more importantly, because that old me has died--no, it has been put to death--EXECUTED. When Christ died, he took the old me with him and when he resurrected, he gave me a new me: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5.17 NIV)
I once was a failure. But now I am not--I merely fail. When I failed, I felt like a mistake, but now I know I am not a mistake, I only make mistakes. I once was a sinner, living my own way in ignorance. But now I am a saint, a child of God--who sometimes forgets her new self and Heavenly Father, stumbling back into an old pattern of her old self. I once was condemned to death for those choices. But now, I am forgiven and free to make new choices.
I am a new creation. I am imperfect. I am holy. I am human. I am chosen spiritual royalty. I am infinitesimally small compared to an infinitely large God. I am, at times, guilty. But I am, at ALL times, blameless and redeemed. I am so much more...thank God for new beginnings!
The other half of my resolution is to remember the Great I AM--the name the Lord God gave himself from the burning bush when he bequeathed upon Moses a new calling to deliver the Israelites out of slavery into their own land and a new identity as deliverer, replacing those of aimless sheepherding and murderer (Exodus 3).
When I am mindful of who God is, it reminds me of my place in this world (Psa. 8.3-4). I am called forward to the truths of who God says I am, rather than back to the lies and half-truths of who the world, Satan, or even my own deceived mind and wounded heart, say I am. When I live in these truths, I am less prone to missteps and mistakes. My sin is actually less about my inherent evil than it is about my forgetfulness of who God truly is and who He says I truly am. That does not make my sin any less weighty, it merely makes the power of God’s work more so.
My resolution is not about crafting myself into a superficially better person. It’s about cooperating with God’s shaping of me into the person He designed me to be (Eph. 2.10).
If you’ve never explored what God has said about who you are, or read the Bible to find out the truth about who He is, or maybe just forgotten some (or all) of it, I invite you to discover or rediscover these truths this year. I’ve started this reading plan for 2018 on the Bible.com app (a few days early, because I knew I’d fall behind early, haha) and if you join, we can encourage each other: http://bible.com/r/2jB (you’ll need to sign up for a free account or login).
Here's a bonus resolution I know I can make and keep: I’ll never judge you for missing a day. 😀 I look forward to remembering who we are and who God is together...here's to a new year with new beginnings. Happy New Year!