New year, new you…at least until February that is.
We’ve been talking a lot about New Year’s Resolutions over at 4word, the ministry for which I blog regularly, but I recently read an article in the New York Times saying that one-third of people who made New Year’s resolutions will have broken them by the end of January. Although, if you’re really dedicated/driven/holy/
If you’re anything like me, your new year usually begins full of good intentions. You’re going to eat better and actually use that gym membership. This year, you’ll arrive at the office on time. Better yet, you plan to read through the entire Bible in a year and start every morning with a quiet time.
And if you’re anything like me at the beginning of this particular new year, even as you make all these noble goals, there’s a nagging little voice in the back of your head saying, “Yeah right. You’ve been here how many times before? A hundred? A thousand? You won’t get far, and you know it.”
That voice makes me want to quit while I’m not so far behind or just not even bother with trying to be better at all.
Brothers and sisters, let me speak plainly for a moment (as if I haven’t already been). That little voice is none other than Satan lying to you. Oh, there’s a kernel of truth in that lie. I’ve already failed hundreds of times at trying to be more like Jesus, and I’m going to fail at the resolutions I made this year. (Confession time: I already have.)
But that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, nor does it mean I should just throw in the towel. The God I serve, the one I’m trying to emulate, isn’t a “three strikes and you’re out” kind of God. Instead, he’s a loving, forgiving Father who is more gracious than I could ever deserve. As the prophet Jeremiah once wrote, “His mercies never come to and end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
And so I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that I can fail and the world won’t end. It’s been a difficult lesson to learn because I’ve always been a high achiever. I’ve grown so used to trying and succeeding that part of my identity has gotten tangled up in my achievements. But I’m learning that wrapping myself up tightly and refusing to try for fear of failing is actually worse than trying and occasionally screwing up.
Besides, we know how the story ends.
We know that, someday, we will be made perfect. Why? Because “He who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) So “let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)
You see, the God I serve is the only One I know who doesn’t fail. When I gave my life to Him all those years ago, He promised not only to save me but to purify me as well. Best of all, He isn’t leaving it all up to me. He gave me the Holy Spirit to help me say “no” when I need to, to help me keep my mouth shut and be patient even when I’d rather snap at someone, to keep slowly chipping away at those sinful places in my heart.
One day, when I get to heaven, He’ll be able to look at me and call me one of His masterpieces. Until then, I’m going to keep making New Year’s resolutions. I’m going to keep breaking them too, but I’m also going to keep picking myself back up. I know that He’ll be there beside me every step of the way, helping me back on my feet and giving me the courage to try again.
Do you struggle with keeping your New Year’s Resolutions as well? What tips do you have for sticking them out?
Amy Wilson is a Southerner enjoying life out in the Wild West in Phoenix, Arizona. By day, she manages the social media communities of the University of Phoenix Alumni Association. By night (and weekends), she blogs for 4word, a ministry to support, connect and mentor young, professional women.
Photo credit: katattack