Clergy Corner: New Year’s resolutions… thumbs up or down?

Having to work on too many improvements can be exhausting

File Photo of Susan Beckett
Susan Beckett, Dwelling Place Church.

■ Susan Beckett / Contributed

It seems that each New Year brings the same terrible challenge to us. That is, we are just about forced to make New Year’s resolutions! I was thinking about it today and simply had to put my foot down to this yearly torture.
Every year it’s the same old thing: New year—new you! Gotta eat better, exercise more, try new things, read more books, be nicer, etc. Seriously, it wears me out just thinking that I’m supposed to pick several of these things each year to work on.
So after mulling it over, I decided to go with the more humorous New Year’s resolutions; l like this one: “I will lose enough weight so my belly no longer jiggles when I brush my teeth.” Funny! Or, ”I will not bore my boss with the same excuse for taking leaves. I will think of some new excuses.” Or one of my very favorites, “This year I will lose between 10 and 3,000 pounds.” Yeah, right!
But then a more lucid person seems to creep up on me and I know deep inside I really do desire to become a better person in 2018. I really do want to be kinder to people and more courageous when necessary, but all these need to be things I resolve to do ahead of time because—let’s be honest—they just won’t happen by chance.
The Bible says in Isaiah 43:19, “Behold I do a new thing….” The word “new” is mentioned 150 times in the Bible. I think the Lord loves new and just by simple definition we can see why. New = current, up-to-date, cutting edge, fresh, original and contemporary. I can see God in all of those definitions and believe He wants to see them in us!
God always desires to do a “new” work in each of us—New Year’s resolutions or not. He is always ready for us to step up and into our personal best. And therein lies the good news. Since the Bible teaches that the mercies of the Lord are new every morning, and since God always wants to see improvement and change in us, if I happen to miss the Jan. 1 resolution cutoff date, God will most certainly give me a 30, 60, or 90-day grace period.
But, then again, we have to admit that Jan. 1 seems to be a great launching pad for each new year! Even Oprah Winfrey seems to understand the need for a New Year as she said: “Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.”
Who, in the long run, doesn’t want to get life right?! Nobody I know. Someone once said, “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” Yes, let’s “start afresh” but again, that just doesn’t happen by chance.
Years ago, I read an article in Reader’s Digest. The article itself is long forgotten, but I remember while reading it, one sentence just popped off the page and went straight into my heart. I remember thinking that this was one of the most profound and true sentences I had ever read in my life. I reached for pen and paper and eventually typed out this single sentence and it has hung on the wall by my work desk ever since. I have shared it with many, many people and some, like myself, have put it to memory as they too found it to be insightful. Here it is: “Every good and excellent thing stands moment by moment on the razor’s edge of danger and must be fought for.”
The point here? A good New Year is worth fighting for! Friends and family are worth fighting for. Being a better person in 2018 is worth the effort—worth fighting for. Losing weight and getting in shape is worth the fight. Becoming everything you were meant to be is definitely worth fighting for, and, of course, becoming closer to our Maker, the One who has given us this amazing life and the New Year, is also worth fighting for! As the sentence says, “Every good and excellent thing.…”
In the end, I like what good ol’ Ben Franklin had to say about the New Year. “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you, a better person.”

Susan Beckett and her husband Bob pastor The Dwelling Place City Church in Hemet.

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