January 1, 2012
A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions. Usually, these resolutions are about changes that they expect and want to take place in their lives. To put it another way, New Year’s resolutions are about our hopes for ourselves for the coming year. Based on what I’ve often heard from people a few months into the new year, they have already given up on trying to fulfill their resolutions. Which means they have also given up on their hopes.
Some of us make the same resolutions year after year, but never get around to fulfilling them. Now why is that? Here’s one answer, which I once read in a newspaper article. The writer suggested that most people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions because they state them in negative terms – what they are not going to do in the new year – “I’m not going to waste my time watching TV”. Or what they are going to stop doing. “I’m going to stop smoking”.
The writer suggested that instead, we need to state our New Year’s resolutions in positive terms – what we are going to do. More specifically- state each resolution in terms of something new or different that we are going to do – “I’m going to take the time to read a new book once a month”.
The writer’s premise was that it’s easier to do something new than to give up or put an end to old habits and ways. Then, once you’ve decided to do something new or different, and actually start to do whatever that is, you will very likely give up the old thing. It’s the advice that comes through that old song, “Actuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative.” I can see in my life and the lives of somre others I know personally, that there is some truth to that. However, I have discovered an even more effective way to keep New Year’s, or any, resolutions.
I have found that if I’m going to be serious about fulfilling a resolution, and therefore my hope, I have to be sure it has been inspired by God. It can’t just be something I’ve decided on because someone tells me it will be good for me. Or because I think it will make me feel good. If I’m going to be serious in working to fulfill this resolution, it needs to become a commitment that I have accepted because it has been inspired by God. And then, I have to remind myself that when I embark on something inspired by God (what God wants me to do), I also have God’s promise that, to the extent I am willing to listen to Him, He will guide, direct, and enable me to successfully accomplish what He has inspired me to do.
At the same time I have to realize that no matter how strong is my desire to fulfill that resolution, it will require some change in my life. It will mean taking on something new, giving up something old, or both. And I will not be able to do that alone. I will need help. That help might come in any number of forms – encouragement, support, assistance, or even financial aid. Usually that help will be provided through other people – friends, family, counselors, bosses, etc. Most important is that I remember that the help I need -whoever or whatever the immediate source of that help, originates with God. Whatever that help is, it is part of the grace of God, meaning whatever God gives me to start and continue to work toward fulfilling my resolution.
So if you are making a few New Year’s resoutions, I recommend that they are God-given and God-guided resolutions. Then no matter how they are stated, you will, over time – God’s time – be able to keep your resolutions. As for me, I no longer make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I make resolutions all during the year – every year. I seek God’s guidance and direction as to what He wants to do with my life many times during the year. I’ll admit that sometimes I don’t listen right away. God has to keep after me through various channels. But for the most part I listen. I say “yes” to what God is telling me to do or be, and let God go to work on me, knowing that He will give me all the grace I need to do whatever that is. Then I just do it. That works for me. I know it works for other people. I believe it will work for you.
Patty and I pray that whether you do or don’t make New Year’s resolutions, your God-given hopes will be fulfilled.
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.