Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why I Never Make New Year's Resolutions

Any opportunity for self-improvement is a good.  I'm all for trying to make ourselves better people, whether that be aimed our health, spirituality, or personality.

In an article by Forbes Magazine, they estimated about 40% of Americans make New Year's Resolutions.

They also estimated that only about 8% of Americans keep them.

So despite all of the zeal and determination our country has, somewhere along the line it just isn't enough.  Perhaps we're setting our sights too high (who can really lose 30 pounds in 30 days?) or maybe it is that we're just not trying hard enough.

That is why I don't make New Year's Resolutions.

I'm with the rest of America.  I don't keep my resolutions.  And in the end they just make me depressed about how much I've fallen short.  I get so focused on my failure to accomplish what I've set before me that I would probably gain the weight I tried so hard to lose. 

Isn't that how it is with God's resolutions?  He makes this list of standards, the 10 Commandments for example, and we get so caught up in trying to keep them that we forget the point of the rules in the first place.

I remember when I was in middle school, I made the decision I would lie less.  I was a habitual white liar; I liked to be in the center of attention so I would tweak my stories just a little to make them more dramatic or more funny.  Around the dinner table, I would spin my tales and anxiously await the delighted laughter from my family.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that was probably not a good thing.  I never told anyone about my decision, but I tried to stop telling white lies.

I failed.  A lot.

I got so frustrated that I kept messing up, I gave up altogether.  I thought, "If I can't accomplish this little thing, what sort of person was I?"  I felt like my determination along should be able to pull me through.

I wrote a blog post awhile back about why we have rules.  Us Christians get so obsessed with rules and regulations and the fact that we've failed.  Rules make it easy for us to judge ourselves and judge others.

But if it was all about judgement, God would have never sent Jesus down.  He would have never had grace with us.

When I've given up trying to improve myself by myself...when I've given up trying to depend on my own abilities...when I've realized that, yes, I am a flawed human being with a sinful nature...and said to God, "Can you please change me?  I can't do this on my own," only then have I seen permanent change.

In America, we tend to make New Year's Resolutions and think that by our sheer will power, we can accomplish anything.  Well, as talented and passionate and determined as us Americans are, we can't accomplish everything by ourselves.  Some things are impossible on our own.

And as soon as we humble ourselves enough to realize that we can't be perfect beings on our own and that we need God's grace, the sooner we can start to see the changes that we've always needed.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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Related Posts: 
Why There Are Rules
My Problem with Christians
5 Tips for a Happier Life
The Gift of Giving

By Brant Hansen: On Giving Up