Beginning the New Year A Suggestion
As we get ready to start another new year, there is, as always, much verbiage written concerning New Year resolutions, most of which speak with great glee regarding the futility of such an undertaking. These anti-resolutionists support their thesis by directing our attention to resolutions familiar to all of us that have not worked in the past. The messages of these New Year resolution naysayers is that the making of resolutions is a waste of time, pointless, without merit, and more often than not highlight our failures rather than bringing any real change, so do not even bother. I believe it was last year when I read one clever writer who proposed creating New Year resolutions you can actually keep and in turn help foster feelings of success rather than failure, New Year resolutions such as I will gain at least 5 pounds this year, I will not go to the gym every day, I will eat sweets, I will regularly drive over the speed limit, I will be out only for myself, I will watch more television and read fewer books...you get the idea. It seems the message in each of these approaches, at least in part, is that people do not change, so why set yourself up for disappointment? The truth being that we are no different on January 1 than we were on December 31, so it is unrealistic to think we are going to change merely because we get caught up in the excitement and hope that often surrounds the beginning of a New Year - good intentions accomplish nothing. In short, there is no basis to believe that this year will be any different from last year, so skip the resolutions and eat, drink and be merry, for we are all pretty good at least at two of those three things.
Now, I will acknowledge that those who write such things are smarter and cleverer than I will ever be, and I will even admit to succumbing to their rhetoric on more than one occasion in past years but not this year. This year I am going against the tide of the New Year resolution naysayers and I am inviting you to do the same. I am armed with a number of truths (listed below) that I will use to help me more fully live into who I am in Christ and fulfill my modest New Year resolution. I am buoyed by the knowledge that God is with me in this, as well as the fact that I have survived the predicted end of the world yet again - there is no stopping me now, especially as I employ the following truths.
There is no condemnation in Christ
Something is better than nothing ( a little is a lot with God and God does some of Gods best work with nothing see creation)
Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly (see above statement)
God looks at me through the eyes of love and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus
Nothing can separate me from God's love
God stands with me and is for me
God's love is unfailing and God's faithfulness is without end
God loves me and even likes me
I am God's one-of-a-kind masterpiece, unique in all the world and delighted in by God.
It is God who is at work transforming me, freeing me to live into and out of who I am in Christ a work that God will complete.
Trust God, trust the process
The truths listed above help me to not fall into the sinkholes of condemnation (there is none possible for we are in Christ) and perfectionism (anything worth doing is worth doing poorly/ something is better than nothing) but own the truth of who I am (my unchanging identity) in Christ as one loved, cherished, delighted in and liked by God and thus free to make a New Year resolution, knowing the truth that I am loved and liked by God who is working in me even I as poorly fulfill my New Year resolution.
So with those truths as my foundation I now boldly proclaim my New Year Resolution, a resolution I invite you to embrace as well, for 2013:
I will endeavor to "start" each day by focusing on the truth that God is. Now hold on a second, take a couple deep breaths, this is not the dreaded I am going to have a quiet time every day New Year resolution or the I am going to pray every morning one. No, this resolution involves the intention of acknowledging the truth that God is, no matter how brief, at the "start" of each and every day.
You will notice the word start is in quotes - I am redefining "start" as that time each day when I actually end up acknowledging that God is - at that moment my day will officially start. I am well aware that, based on my definition of start, there is a very good chance I will also need to redefine the word "year" into something different than a period of time comprised of 365 days - my "year" may very well be a few days, if not weeks, shorter than our traditional year, but I am fine with that.
So I will "start" my day by focusing that God is when I first wake up, or sometime within those first few moments, or as I am getting ready for my day, showering, brushing my teeth, combing my hair, or sipping my first cup of coffee, juice, tea, or taking my first bite of breakfast, or walking to my car or after my first meeting, or when I sit down to lunch, or as I head home in the afternoon, or as I am finishing up my dinner, or getting ready for bed, brushing my teeth, or as my head hits the pillow, or in that moment, whenever it happens, that I remember that I forgot to acknowledge that God is - it is precisely then I will "start" my day without condemnation by acknowledging God is.
Here are some handy phrases for acknowledging God is:
This is the day You have made.
Thank You Jesus!
Help Me Jesus!
Help me to know your love for me and share that love with others.
Jesus have mercy on me.
You are loving, powerful and wise.
I am yours and you are mine.
This is the day you have made, help me rejoice and be glad in it.
Lord have mercy.
We can do this!
Nothing can separate me from your love.
There is no condemnation for me in You, only love.
Lord you are good, your love endures forever and your faithfulness is everlasting.
I love you.
Christ have mercy!
In you, I live, move and have my being.
I am your child.
My God, My all!
You are with me.
O Lord Almighty, My God and My King.
Christ has come, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
Gracious, loving, powerful, only-wise God.
Now, my New Year resolution may seem trite and even a bit silly but I assure you it is not. This simple practice with God's help can transform your life and free you to discover, embrace and live more fully into the person God has created you to be especially when you can live into the freedom of doing it poorly. The freedom of doing something poorly is often the springboard of doing something exceptionally well, or at least doing something you never thought you would or could ever do. If you take on this practice as your New Year resolution, please know that the transformation I speak of does not happen quickly, but as the waves of an ocean will turn a mountain into the sand of a beach, this practice God will use to gradually transform you from the inside out.
SO, why don't you join me this "year" resolving to "start" your day by acknowledging God is. Remembering if you do join me, to employ the truths of who you are and who God is, listed above, so you do not fall into the sinkholes of condemnation and perfectionism that often surround New Year resolutions, but rather find yourself again and again in the loving and gracious presence of God who loves you, delights in you and likes you.
Let the new year begin - Christ have mercy!
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