New years resolutions, lots of people have them. Some people even keep them. Most everybody has had an unpleasant experience with them at some point in time or other. As you can tell by how late in the “new” year this post is coming … I’m not so great with New Year’s resolutions.
And I’m OK with that.
I tried for many years to have positive new year’s resolutions. I tried to eat well, live right, exercise more and all of the tired cliches you hear the crowds of well intentioned people swearing every late December, early January. Soon enough, however, my sincerely sworn best intentions turned into sour experiences that just left me swearing. For some reason the life I wanted to change for the better just didn’t want to be changed.
Then I decided to get smart about things. I figured if you can’t beat them (me) then join them (me) … So it tried my hand at making resolutions that I knew I already liked. Resolutions to play more games, read more books, have more adventures. “How could it fail?:” I thought. I guess I didn’t think it through well enough.
Sure enough, only a few weeks into it and all my best intentions to do what I like doing were causing me just as much misery as trying to make myself miserable with things like diet and exercise. The more I told myself I should be doing certain things (even things I liked to do), the more I resented myself for not being able to do them. Work got too busy, life got crazy, and suddenly my resolutions to have more fun felt more like an accusation hanging over my head. “What happened to you man? You used to be so much fun! Now you’re like … old and serious or something? What happened?!”
What happened is that in my rush to do I forgot that the law ALWAYS accuses. It’s basic catechism stuff, but I forgot it none-the-less. By making even something I like doing into something I should be doing I made it into the law. And the law always accuses. And that’s no fun.
How many Christians have likewise taken the fun, the joy, the comfort out of the gifts of God by turning them into the law, by saying in effect I could have, I should have, I ought to … How many of us end up feeling guilty about Church, Bible reading, praying, witnessing etc… because instead of seeing them as a good that God gives us, we turn them into a good we could be, should be, ought to be doing for Him and for ourselves. Even if we normally enjoy these things, they turn sour and accusing when we can’t, we don’t, and we fail to live up to our expectations.
So I’m not so great with New Year’s resolutions, and I’m OK with that. Instead of turning the things I enjoy into the Law, this year I wised up. I’m simply going to enjoy what I enjoy and leave it at that. I will enjoy all the wonderful gifts God has given me, most especially the gift of forgiveness for when I break even this un-resolution and find myself frustrated all over again. Happy New Year!