Yes, I know I just made my New Year resolutions.
But if you are like me, New Year resolutions made on January 1st are often D.O.A. before the end of the month. I like to think that I am not a flake. I do not consider myself unmotivated. But what I know about myself is this ~ I am a creature of habit and old habits are hard to transform.
Oh, I breathe life into my resolutions for a few days ~ sometimes for two or three weeks. More often than not though, I finally remember them about mid-month. Quite honestly, at that point, I tend to just declare them pulseless and non-breathing. As I go through the ritual of mentally burying yet another set of New Year resolutions, I am struck with both guilt and grief. I heap loads of guilt upon myself for failing ~ once again ~ and allowing my good intentions to fall lifeless along the roadside of the routine of life. I mourn the fact that it was not my old habits that died, but my good intentions that are once again found too weak to survive.
Sadly, this year’s resolutions are no different. Knowing my habit of making and breaking resolutions, I made just a couple. I kept them for a few days. But alas, as the number of days of the month increased, so did the number of fatalities on my list of resolutions.
Then, this past weekend, I remembered the words of a wise friend ~ words spoken in a sermon over 30 years ago. Ben West was the pastor of the small church we attended in northern California. Near the end of January, sometime in the late 1970's, Ben delivered a homily about keeping our resolutions. The focus of his sermon was not so much about making resolutions but rather on breaking them. That’s right! He wanted to address those of us who seemed to not be able to keep the resolutions alive for more than a few days or a couple of weeks.
It was one of those sermons where I felt he was going to preach directly to me. You know, when you feel like the pastor must be looking in the windows of your soul! I prepared myself for another dose of guilt.
Ben’s words that morning were not accusatory. His message was not filled with ‘should of’ and ‘ought to’. Rather, his words were gentle, encouraging and full of hope. Here is what I remember from that Sunday morning over 30 years ago.
We make New Year resolutions and we break New Year resolutions.Ben’s words were life-support to my dying resolutions back then, and are again life-giving in 2010.
We can focus on our success at keeping them, or look at our failure of breaking them. Rather than focusing on what was not done, focus on what was accomplished because you made the resolution.
Maybe today you are able to say:
Realize that you have accomplished something because you made a New Year resolution. Take heart and keep going from there.
- I exercised 5 days in January ~ when your habit is to not exercise at all!
- I read my Bible for 3 days ~ when your Bible usually collects dust during the week.
Thank you, Ben, that today I choose to resurrect my resolutions and keep going from here.
Thank you that I can redeem this new year as I again breathe life into my desire to change old habits; as I lay aside the guilt and grief of failure; as I keep on being transformed into something new.