According to one source, the three most popular new year’s resolutions are:
Managing my diet;
There are no surprises on this list. Frankly, I’ve resolved to practice a couple of them myself this year. For that matter, I tend to make some of the same resolutions almost every year. Some things need to be done constantly. You change the oil in your car with regularity. You brush your teeth daily. You make the bed ... at least sometimes. Much of life involves habit, repetition, routine. We continue to address the same issues throughout our lives.
We keep on resolving to do some things annually because well, we need to keep on doing those things annually! Though it is always in vogue to make snide remarks about those who keep on making new year’s resolutions without ever keeping them you won’t hear me joining that chorus.
So much of daily life consists of continuing to try to practice the same honorable, healthful, community-sustaining, beneficial practices and habits. Our good habits never seem to become so completely ingrained that we no longer have to concentrate on them. On the other hand we never seem to completely root out those things we want to banish from our lives. And so there is a daily need to continue to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). On New Year’s Day we do that by making resolutions.
So, I try not to get depressed when my resolve seems to grow weaker by about the third or fourth week in January. With the Apostle Paul I realize that though the spirit is willing the flesh is often week (Romans 7: 18-25). There will be days when one is highly successful in living a life of holiness but there will be other periods when one fails spectacularly either on purpose or by neglect.
Those who no longer make new year’s resolutions may think that they’ve matured beyond the point of needing to create specific goals, but this would be a mistake. There is not a one of us that doesn’t need to make changes in the way we relate to God and love and care for each other and the creation. Those who are smugly satisfied with themselves might begin by making a resolution that they will be less smug and more humble.
And so one of my resolutions this year is to keep on making new year’s resolutions. Such goals, if prayerfully and carefully considered and conscientiously kept, can be a source of great strength. And just because you’ve made the same resolutions in past years does not signify that you are a failure. It is simply an indication that you are desirous of eventually gaining mastery over certain areas of your life that continue to be under construction. This might be the year that you reach the tipping point with some of these practices.
Contact the Rev. Creede Hinshaw at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah at firstname.lastname@example.org.