I believe that the process of establishing a New Year’s Resolution is positive. In many ways its a form of repentance. To establish one or more resolutions to change one’s life requires that we be reflective, and self-critical. It requires that we identify areas of weakness and address them. The problem lies in two things.
- In as much as this process is penitential, its a state of mind or a way of looking at our lives that we should aspire to possess all year long. It is often too easy to set a goal for the year, ignoring that each week too is a cycle that calls us to repent and change. Even every day!
- Our resolutions have a horrible success rate! The more resolutions we establish, and later fail at, the more we become discouraged in our own ability to change. Change is one of the greatest Christian virtues. Without the ability to change our lives, our community, even our church, we have failed in our service to God.
It is argued in the book Willpower by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney that one must establish one goal so that all willpower can be focused on achieving it, but what one goal can overcome all of our shortcomings? And how can we overcome the ever-present likelihood that we’ll become lazy, and loose our resolve.
A beginning monk went to a certain elder to ask this question: “Why, Father, do I fall so often into sloth?” was told: “You lack the faith which makes you see God everywhere; for this reason you can be careless and lazy about your salvation.”
Indeed the core of our inability to achieve our resolutions is not our intention but the root of our motivation. Why do we seek to loose weight or get organized? Is it to align our selves with the expectations of the world, or is it actualize our potential creatures created in God’s image?
When we align our hearts with God, our goals can be achieved by virtue of our salvation. How can we achieve our mission on this earth if we are unhealthy, and unorganized? How can we give glory to God if we do not cherish the wonderful people he has placed in our lives? How can we not help one another, when we no that in every human there is a spark of the divine, worthy of immeasurable respect and dignity?
Don’t let me discourage you from resolving to make changes in 2013, but I implore you to make your main resolution this year a spiritual one. Grow in awareness of God. This can be accomplished by reading scripture daily, setting a schedule for personal prayer, fasting regularly, and participating in the liturgical life of the church constantly and with meditative intent. You are a child of light. Therefore, illuminate your mind to a core truth. God is good, and God is waiting to embraced in every experience.
If you able to achieve this goal in even some small measure, then the other goals in your life will also be realized. By abiding in the Lord you will become stronger and more capable of personal change through spiritual insight, and because the blessings of the Lord will be upon you and His will will be your own.
I wish you a very happy new year, filled with the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by the power of His life giving holy cross, may you be granted good health, success in your God-pleasing endeavors, and peace.