This time of year we all seem to be driven to set new goals, make new resolutions, establish new habits. There’s just something about starting a new year that seems to beckon us to evaluate what hasn’t been working and make plans for change. I think it can be good, but sometimes I think the New Year poses a huge opportunity for shame.
If our evaluation of the previous year reveals failure upon failure – if we look at last year’s resolutions and see them sitting there unresolved – the opportunity exists for shame to creep in, discouragement, and complacency. After all, why make resolutions for 2015 when all of 2014’s and 2013’s and 2012’s resolutions sit in a corner gathering dust.
I am struggling this year to find a focus. It feels a little bit like I’m trying to use binoculars to view an elephant. An elephant that is eight inches from my nose.
So, I’ve decided to take off the long range vision goggles and look at the things right in front of my face. Instead of looking at 2015 as one huge opportunity for change, I want to look at January 7th as a little opportunity to do something different. And tomorrow, when I wake up, I want to look at January 8th as an opportunity to make a small change.
I know, some of you are saying, “Yes, a mile journey begins with one step, but you have to know where you are headed! That’s why you need resolutions. Resolutions and goals define the destination!”
Perhaps you are right. I’m actually a “big picture” kind of person by nature, so this take-it-one-day-at-a-time-without-some-grand-plan idea is going against my very nature. I’d much rather deal in global ideas, principles, and theories than get down to the seconds of days that make a life. Perhaps that’s why this stretch for me is so important. Perhaps that is exactly why I need to shift to a view of what’s right in front of me.
If I take a big enough step back, I can see my destination is already defined. The road I am taking has already been decided and everything I encounter will either make me fit for heaven and being in the presence of God or it will not. Maybe knowing heaven is my destination is enough to focus me on today.
C.S. Lewis says,
[E]very time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.
Maybe a new running plan or diet or sleep schedule will help me move that central part of me toward a heavenly being.
Maybe renewed vigor in scripture memory and morning devotions will help the part of me that chooses to be a little different than it was before.
Maybe cutting out sugar or sodas or or living within a budget or journalling on a daily basis or being more present with my kids are some of the choices I could make to turn me toward harmony with God and other creatures.
All these things certainly provide the opportunity develop perseverance and self-discipline or other facets of the fruit of the Spirit. But maybe my focus needs to be more on living in the Spirit as I make healthy choices than about the healthy choices themselves. I’m starting to think my goal or resolution for 2015 should be more about the second-by-second choices that shape who I am than a series of external goals I can post on Facebook or tweet about or snap a picture of to pin on Pinterest.
I’m sure it’s not a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) resolution, but I do think it’s a GRACE (God-directed, realistic, achievable, Christ-centered, eternal) resolution. And for now, I think I need some GRACE goals more than SMART ones.