Perhaps now that we are nearing mid-month New Year’s Resolutions are already old news – I for one can attest that my initial, steely resolve to give up refined sugar has long lapsed – yet this reflection on a better kind of resolution is still fresh in my mind so I am sharing it with you. I received this from a friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) a few weeks ago and think it is worth passing on as many of us find ourselves still bumbling into a fresh start for 2012. Enjoy.
While babysitting on New Year’s Eve I had plenty of time to contemplate the old year and the new one. I brought my journal in anticipation of writing resolutions or something of the sort, but as I sat down to write, I realized I didn’t really have a list of resolutions, per se. Sure, I’d like to travel to some neat places, learn to become a better cook, find a job, move to the mountains…you know, all menial things like that. And, as I was thinking, I began to ponder the fact that writing new year’s resolutions, although by no means a sin, does carry a certain “how to be your own selfish pig” connotation. That is, “here are the things that I WILL ACCOMPLISH! For the betterment of ME!”
In many ways our culture breeds us to believe that we can, in fact, control everything if we are determined enough. And while I don’t believe the way I live necessarily contradicts this belief, I like to think that when I set my mind to do certain things, most of the time, I can achieve them. However, where does this leave us in Christ’s kingdom? According to Jesus, not in a very stable place. So, with new winds blowing through my mind, I resolved to write a different kind of New Year’s resolution. As Christians, we believe there is no true and real freedom outside of Christ so we must first commit to following him and second, we must take up our weapons to fight the battles in which we are placed.
“Resolute”, the frame word for resolution means: marked by firm determination. Surely, if we believe that we are determined enough to lose 10 pounds, we will. If everything ought to be done in and through God, however, shouldn’t our new year’s resolutions look that way, too? In fact, I did some further etymological studies to learn that we get our word from the Latin word: resolvo which means, “to again unbind, set free.” I don’t know about you, but I think I would much rather step into 2012 being reminded that I am “again, unbound” rather than the reminder that my future is determined by me alone. I love the definition: to unbind, to set free. I think that is what Jesus wants us to remember not just at the start of the New Year, but at the start of every day! Galations 5:1 says “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” Let’s cast off the yoke of slavery from our New Year’s resolutions–the ones that are for our glory, because isn’t it clear that that is not freedom?
Since no one really keeps resolutions anyways, I hoped to make a more sustainable “list”, which is attached and can be referenced and revisited throughout the year instead of just one night. Instead of stepping into the year trying to hold true to promises I make to myself, I hope to step into it being encouraged and excited by the many promises God has made to me and to his people. This takes the control and plans for my new year and places them firmly under God’s watchful hand. I don’t think it is wrong to desire to change things, to start new ventures, to pick up new hobbies…in fact, it is this unique set of abilities that distinguishes us as humans made in the image of God. But to understand that it is only God who can change our hearts and re-wire our brains makes a big difference.
I hope that you will all fill it out throughout the year, and how wonderful it would be to be able to share them all in a year and see how God is working FOR us, continually unbinding and setting us free. To these beliefs, I am resolute.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
Kate Harris is Executive Director for The Washington Institute, wife to a good man and mother of their three young children.