It’s Late January; Don’t Sweat the Untimely Passing of Those New Year’s Resolutions
This year the holidays had me thick in remembrance. I kept thinking……last Christmas I had no idea what 2017 would hold. As we celebrated the New Year, I thought………last year I never saw surgery or radiation in the forecast. Three hundred and sixty-five days is a lot of wake-ups. I think we generally approach any new year with the expectation that life will truck on pretty much the same as it always has. And then maybe it doesn’t.
A year of medical interventions yields a reverence for the expanse of time that will gather under the tent of 2018. Not fear. Not even excitement, perhaps unfortunately. But respect. A peaceful deference to Time. The realization that each day is pregnant with uncertainty like fat, heavy raindrops too massive for the air to hold.
In some regards, I could classify 2017 as a bad year, but I don’t. Scary…..yes. Unexpected…..certainly. But I’ve had worse. I’ve had years the locusts have eaten. Hard years I endured with little to show for the scramble and the heartache. There have been times I have not cashed in the dividends of the difficult; I, instead, declined the opportunity to be refined by the struggle. Those were the bad years, the wasted years. This time, however, I sit on the cusp of 2018 with legs swinging girlishly as a better human than I was a year ago.
This assertion boasts nothing of effort or resolve; I think it was merely a fact of cooperation.
We talk a lot, at this juncture each year, about change. I have the usual suspects on my list: read the whole Bible again, drink more water, lose weight, memorize Scripture, eat out less, give more, laugh more, exercise regularly, spend less time on social media, read more, write more (okay, maybe that one doesn’t land on many folks’ lists), but the length of that list alone is enough to paralyze me with discouragement. But who doesn’t want “A New Year, A New You”?
Easy on those expectations, friend.
Perhaps our innate desire to change for the better finds its origin in God’s desire to transform us. He is always working to make us people with character like His: joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled. Compassionate, merciful, gracious, just, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He’s always about this work.
And this work looks like Him using hard things, devastating circumstances, impossible odds, crippling hurt, and loss to tenderize our hearts and our sensitivities. It also looks like Him using the wonder of small children, the beauty of a walk in the woods, the joy of a thousand blessings, the gratitude of restoration, and the steel of hope. He is ever about this work, and the shaping that results is eternal.
While God isn’t the author of much of the pain we encounter (sin and evil hail from a different home), He is ever the resourceful craftsman, using all that’s at His disposal to make a masterpiece from mud.
This lets us off the hook a great deal in the New Year’s Resolution department. There is already a plan in place to change us for the better, and it is driven by a loving Father who is wiser, more powerful, and more gracious than we. So, we don’t have to try harder this year to make miraculous, billboard-worthy change; we only have to cooperate with the improvements God initiates. I don’t mean to suggest it will be easy; most likely it will not. But it is simple.
In 2018, I will dial my heart in sync with His; I will listen intently, and I will obey in faith. Transformation lives there. That’s its address. Not temporal change – where you lose twenty pounds in the first six months of the year, gain it all back the second half and start the next year in exactly the same place you started the year before (I know nothing of this, I assure you). This is not elastic change. Or change that only lasts a hot minute.
These alterations are eternal. And they fit just right.