It's that time of year again, when our focus turns from the anticipation of the Christmas season to the hope that we have for a new year. We're starting to think, if we haven't been thinking already, about the changes that we want to make in 2021.
Most of these changes have to do with an image that we have in our heads of what it means to be somehow better than we are right now. We want to take better care of ourselves. We want to lose weight. We want to eat healthier. These always seem to be the top resolutions that we, as humans, make every year. And the fact that we make them every year should tell us enough about what they really promise us, but here we are, resolving again to take better care of ourselves, lose weight, and eat healthier. So there's that.
We also make resolutions about our jobs. This is the year that we're going to go back to school and finish that degree. Or start a new one. It's the year we're going to finally demand that promotion at work, or switch jobs entirely and start doing something we've wanted to do for a long time.
We make resolutions about our relationships. This year, we're going to repair that rift that's gone on for too long. We're going to find our birth parents, or the child that we gave up for adoption so many years ago. We're going to make new friends and actually get out and do things with them.
We make resolutions about our finances. We're going to get ahead this year, finally pay off those debts we've been owing. We're going to pay down our mortgage and get it under the next $10,000 mark. We're going to pay off the car, maybe get a new one. We're going to start saving for fill-in-the-blank, whether that's a vacation or a car or an education or a move or whatever it is.
This year, we're going to make it past January 3 before we break our resolutions. (Oh, so close!)
Every year, we start thinking about all of the changes we want to make in our lives, and every year, it seems like we're thinking about the same changes we want to make in our lives - all the ones that didn't work out last year. Or the year before that. Or the year before that. Of course, it is common this time of year to say, well, this year, I resolved to lose 20 pounds; only 30 to go! When it comes to our resolutions, we seem to be hopeless failures.
Perhaps, then, it's time to change our resolutions. Perhaps, then, it's time to focus on the things that could really actually change our lives, rather than focusing on the ways that we want our lives to change.
And that...just takes one resolution. One simple resolution that we can, and should, be making year after year if we really want our lives to be different. One resolution that we can make today, right now, and make again tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and the day after that, not because we're going to fail but because every success that we have in it will remind us of how much further we have to go - and why it's so worth it to keep on.
Ready? Here's the resolution I'm making this year, and the one I want to encourage you to make, too:
This year, I want to be more like Jesus.
That's it. That's all. A little bit or a lot, this year, I just want to be more like Jesus. I want to have my eyes open every day for a chance to be more like Jesus. I want to see, and seize, the opportunities He puts in front of me to be more like Him. To love better, to be more gracious, to extend more mercy, to be present to the lives of those around me and yes, even to my own life. To be more present to His life.
You see, Jesus has promised me that in Him, I am a new creation. The old has passed away, and the new has come. And that means that as I think about what it would mean to change my life for the better this year, the only thing I can count on, the only thing that promises a lasting difference, is to lean into that new creation and let Him truly remake me. And the cool thing is that, if it works out - if it works out a little or works out a lot - I can do the same thing next year, and there's the same promise attached to it. God is making me new, all the time.
I just have to resolve to live like it.
So this year, I am. This year, I want to be more like Jesus. That's it. That's all.