An Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

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I always feel like New Year’s resolutions are like the loud, funny, obnoxious guy at work. A love hate relationship. You want to love him, but secretly love to hate him because of all the attention he gets. He’s a good guy, really! But deep down you know he’ll always outshine you no matter what you do – c’est la vie, right?

Year after year people make resolutions for all sorts of big and small things. Reading more, praying more, working out more, complaining less, eating less… And usually fail. Call me a pessimist, but I really haven’t met anyone who’s outshined their own resolutions and actually conquered them.

In my own life, I’ve gone around the block and done everything from trash talking the whole concept to being really creative and philosophical with them. But you know what? None of it has really changed me or made me a better person at the end of the year (except the time I made a resolution to not make a resolution – that one I excelled at).

This year, I propose a change. I propose that we approach the new year with a fresh outlook that makes us more ready to accept God’s will in whatever form it takes. The hard part I find about specific resolutions is that A LOT can happen in a year. What happens when you’ve made a resolution to lose weight and you find out you have an autoimmune condition and you’re just trying to walk everyday? What happens when you are resolute about cooking every meal at home and a new baby comes along and you just can’t keep up? We really set ourselves up for failure sometimes without realizing it. But what if we had a way to still strive to become better and holier this year without a specific New Year’s resolution? A way to be more attentive to the will of God in each moment without some vague, open ended, self-promise to just “pray more” or “be a nicer person”?

While praying and reading one of my favorite books ever, one paragraph quoted the words of Our Lord from Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do it to me.” The last five words hit me like never before. It was then I realized what I want to be doing this year to live up to Pope Francis’ 10 Resolutions. I want to approach the new year with a theme, a phrase, just five small words that will help me hear God’s will in each moment and call me on to live out who God made me to be. 

I’ll let you know the results at the end of next year, but I already feel this isn’t my typical love/hate relationship with the new year. Will you join me? Go find your favorite prayer book or grab the Bible – pray, and listen. Are there just five words that God is speaking to you today to live out this year? I know there are for me – You do it to Me. I feel that Jesus is calling me to live out in a very real way MERCY (which is so perfect since we are celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy!)

Lord, help me to hear these words in everything I do this year. I want to quench Your thirst on the Cross in all my actions. When the kids are crazy and I want to yell, you do it to Me. When I’m tempted to gossip about a friend, you do it to Me. When I feel like ignoring those who annoy me,  you do it to Me. When my husband is sick and asks for a glass of water, you do it to Me. When I feel like complaining or judging someone, you do it to Me.

Dear New Year, I’m coming at you!

What do you think about New Year’s resolutions? Will you take five words with you through the year? What phrase is on your heart for the new year?

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2 comments

  1. I love your analogy about the guy at work – laughed out loud at that one! Considering the fact that I have already blown one of my New Year’s Resolutions – I am definitely up for a new approach. I like the idea of a theme very much! Thanks for the food for thought and best wishes for a great 2016.

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