Do you still make New Year's resolutions? Or have the last couple of years beaten it out of you?
We resolve to lose weight. To finally use that gym membership we’ve had for months. To drink less. To make better food choices. To have regular family meals. To buckle down and learn Spanish. To switch jobs. To be more patient. To read more. To watch less television. To spend less time on social media. To give more to charity. To run ten miles a week. To go to church. To volunteer. To read through the Bible. To not be late for work. To not complain so much. To learn how to play that guitar collecting dust in the storage unit. To be kinder. To be a better spouse. To be a better parent. To be a better friend. To be better.
Whatever yours may be, we do like to make promises to ourselves. But we rarely make it to February before we are reminded - once again - how weak and fragile we are.
It is not just you; it is a species-wide affliction. I am not trying to discourage you. You should definitely work to carry out whatever is on your list, and I am sure whatever is on your list is good. No one ever set a goal on January 1st to be a worse person by the end of the year. So, keep reaching; when we stop growing, we start dying.
But it has forced me to ponder this glorious human compulsion for self-improvement, for reinvention. What is that? I am certain my cat has never looked in a mirror and thought, “I must get more exercise this year.” But we are always jumping on and off different paths at different speeds in a faltering attempt to arrive at a better version of ourselves. Where does this desire come from? We do not know what the best version of ourselves would even be, but still, we reach for it. The new year confronts us with a truth we try to push away the rest of the year; the truth we rarely say out loud: 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘣𝘦; 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐’𝘮 𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦; 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦.
God also makes resolutions; theologians call them covenants, but you can call them promises. He has promised us unspeakable glory. To live and learn and grow forever; to shine like the stars. You were made to shine. That is the reason for this incessant desire for improvement, for change. It is embedded in our code; it is written on our hearts. Your desire to shine is not wrong, it is not mere vainglory. It reflects your hope to shine like the sun, to vibrate with the glory of creation. To master talents and crafts that you have not even dreamed of. To sing like thunder and create startling beauty. To run and not be weary, to walk and not faint.
These results are ultimately based on his resolve, not ours. My resolve is weak and fleeting, his is omnipotent and unchanging. So, by all means make every effort to keep those resolutions this year. Keep reaching and stretching and learning and reinventing yourself. Never stop growing. But, as we take our first steps into 2022, remember the closer you walk with the One who is the Source of all that shines, the brighter you will shine, regardless of how dark the year might be.
Now put down that donut and go for a walk.
Happy New Year.
“𝘐𝘵 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘓𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘵𝘰𝘰 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘰𝘰 𝘸𝘦𝘢𝘬.
𝘞𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘧-𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦𝘴, 𝘧𝘰𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘥𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘦𝘹 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘮𝘣𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯
𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘫𝘰𝘺 𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘶𝘴,
𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘰𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘰 𝘰𝘯 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘶𝘥 𝘱𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘴𝘭𝘶𝘮
𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘥𝘢𝘺 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘢.
𝘞𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘧𝘢𝘳 𝘵𝘰𝘰 𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦𝘥.”
-CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory
“..𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙚𝙤𝙪𝙨 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙚 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙪𝙣 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙙𝙤𝙢 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙞𝙧 𝙁𝙖𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧.”