New Year's Resolution already dead in the water?

What happens to our new year's resolve each year? We have the best intentions and the weakest willpower sometimes...

New Year's Resolution already dead in the water?
Photo by Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

How many years have you started a new year's resolution, just to find yourself weeks or perhaps months later defeated and discouraged? If you're like me, maybe you stopped making resolutions years ago because you felt defeated before even starting. But what if we could find a new strategy, even a more permanent way of being, one that actually makes a difference in our lives?

"New Year. New Me. Same dreams. Fresh starts."

It's not like my ambitions for each new year actually change. They usually follow the themes of...losing weight, eating healthier, spending more time reading the Bible, etc. These are good goals, good dreams. The problem with poor execution is not because of them. The problem is within me.

So Many Self-Help Books

One of my favorite authors, Jared C Wilson, writes the question, "Why are there so many self-help books out there these days? Because none of them work." This made me laugh out loud when I read it, and if you look past the cleverness, you'll find a nugget of rare wisdom. The truth is that I CAN'T improve myself, not really. If I'm sick and need surgery, I should go to a surgeon, not to a counselor like myself. But where does a surgeon go if he/she needs surgery? They certainly don't perform it upon themselves. Self-help goes a little bit like that. The logic makes sense at first glance: if I'm part of the problem, then I must be part of the solution, right? And I'm not saying that we as humans are powerless to grow, change or better ourselves. A lot of my counseling practice incorporates hard work and behavioral changes. But what I am trying to say, is that people need OUTSIDE HELP in order for real, deep change to occur.

As a Christian, I know because the Bible tells me so, that Jesus is the only one who can create real, lasting, heart-level change. Like turn my stone heart into a flesh heart kind of change. So if I embark on each new year hitching up my big girl pants, face set towards the sunrise, armed with a few new books and a healthy dose of motivation...what am I going to achieve? Again, the value of self-discipline is not in question here. The point is that if I don't look outside of myself, to the One who created me and continues to shape me into the image of His Son, and commune with Him regularly, then I will not get far before I'm discouraged, exhausted and alone.

So how do we avoid turning communion with God into another empty new year's resolution? By remembering, over and over, that He is already present with us in every moment. By turning our face towards his, and asking Him to remove the veil just a little bit so we can sense Him there and be impacted by His glory. And once we can experience this, and experience it again, and again...then hang the goals and resolutions. We've already got what we needed all along.