It's that time of year again, time for New Year's Resolutions. It's time for gyms to put their full force in advertising. It's time for notepads to fill up with goals and optimism to plant itself in full force in our minds. And this year, we're convinced that we can do it. We've got a plan. We've set our minds to our goals, and this is it- time to leap into a new year.
But we know, in the back of our minds, that these goals never turn out quite as planned.
Imagine you're sailing on a boat that has a leak in it, slowly letting the water fill up the vessel, constantly making the crew work to keep the boat afloat. What would be a better goal, to do a better job getting the water out or to fix the hole?
It seems obvious here to choose the later.
Now I ask you, do your New Year’s Resolutions represent option one or option two? Are you trying to get the water out of your life by grunting and trying harder, or are you fighting the heart of the problem, the leak?
One of the biggest resolutions today centers on health and fitness. We want to be fitter, skinnier, healthier, and happier. We want to have a six-pack or a certain number on the scale. And these are great things. I want them too.
I was thinking this past week about my health and fitness goals for 2017. This is something I’ve struggled with in the past and still struggle with today. It’s so tempting for me to make a goal and put my full force into meeting that goal, putting my identity into getting clear skin, going that mile, eating that salad. And when I meet that goal, I still don’t feel satisfied. I still feel insecure, discontent, and not enough.
That’s the trouble with many of our New Year’s Resolutions. Even when we meet them, we don’t feel satisfied. Why? Because we got better at getting the water out of the boat, but we didn’t address the leak in the boat.
Instead of dealing with our insecurities, we diet.
Instead of facing our fears, we build walls.
Instead of humbling ourselves for others, we find ways to make our friendships look better on the surface.
Instead of really letting Christ change us, grow us, weed out the sin in our lives, we resolve to read more books about Him.
But stop for a moment and envision with me a different way of going into the New Year. What if we made goals that reflected what our heart really needs? What if we worked on stopping the leak instead of simply getting the water out of the boat?
The girl who really wants to be able to post a transformation Tuesday picture by 2018 could have an even greater transformation: her soul could find greater beauty in Christ. She could find a security in Jesus’ love for her and His work in her, which is beautiful. She couldn’t have to bow down to the latest pressure of beauty in the 21st Century. She could stand taller than comparison and lift others up to see beauty more clearly instead of bringing them down into insecurity.
The girl who wants to manage time better and get such-and-such done by 2018 could have a greater peace in God than in any complete to-do list. She could embrace the freedom of grace and hold her plans in open hands. She could let God interrupt her plan for a greater mission. She could take hold of every opportunity and also rest in the sovereignty of the Father.
The girl who seeks to find community, friendship, or romance by 2018 could start viewing relationships as a way to truly love others and not simply be loved. She could shower the love of Christ upon others, whether they can give her what she wants or not. She could learn the wisdom and work of relationships and how God works in them.
Whether you relate to these situations or not, I challenge you to rethink your New Year’s resolutions. Make sure that you don’t forget the heart of the matter, the leak in the boat. Once that’s in order, the other, smaller things like working out, lessening social media, or having better friendships will make more sense. These things aren’t bad at all, but they won’t fix the problem until we fix the hole. After that, they will be changes that satisfy, resolutions that will do more than meet a goal. They will lead our hearts to look more like Jesus.
In all of these changes, these little steps towards holiness, we are not alone, though. In fact, we cannot do it alone, not matter how hard we try or how many resolutions we make.
But God can.
God is with us, every little step, every humbling falter. He wants us to grow in Him even more than we want to grow in Him, have you considered that? Let us ask Him for wisdom, for He loves to give it. Let us seek Him, for He will show us Himself.
“Being confident of this, that He who began the good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
Have a Happy New Year, may 2017 be a year of overflowing joy and unexplainable peace!