A Worthy Resolution

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

Happy New Year! Is it just me or do we need a new year? Most people I know are welcoming 2017 with an unprecedented embrace. If 2016 was a good year for you, you’re welcome. The rest of us sent you our good…

(Just kidding. That’s not a thing. And most of us can, in fact, dig some good out of this year if we tried.)

As 2017 comes upon us, I sense an unparalleled longing within most people to shed the toxic substances that clung to us this year almost as fervently as a molting insect.

Of course, there will be the common attempts to attain a physically healthy lifestyle. When things feel icky we tend to grasp for the physical elements within our realm of control: often, our weight and overall appearance.

For individuals who have struggled with Eating Disorders, January is not anything particularly triggering or special. It’s simply another month. Except a month during which restriction and over exercise becomes normal and the rest of the world seems to join in on the obsession. Suddenly, desperate measures to attain fitness and “health” become acceptable and normal.

But, deep down, people want a more encompassing self-enhancement: body, mind and spirit. The tension is simply that we do not have a concrete method to reach the mental and spiritual parts of ourselves, so we choose to focus on the physical. That’s our most public and noticeable component, anyway.

In this day and age, there is a genuine appreciation and recognition of the complexity of our being. People of various races, ethnicities, religions, genders, and educational backgrounds recognize that we are people of mind, body and spirit.

Self-care practices, physical workouts and spiritual and mental strengthening exercises have become trendy. Consider the popularity of yoga, tai chi, energywork, meditation, crossfit, the paleo lifestyle (not just the diet), and adult coloring books.

It seems, in January, that everyone is trying to fulfill the needs they are suddenly making space to recognize. We were made to have healthy minds, healthy bodies, and healthy spirits, yet we live in a world that violently resists such health…a world that is ridden with gluttony and egocentrism. That is why, when a season is built around self-improvement, we quickly begin to crave betterment and develop goals for attaining such.

In this season, we are tricked into believing that goal achievement will bring us fulfillment: Losing 10 pounds will bring us happiness. Coloring within the lines will ensure us a longer life. Meditation and mindfulness will bring us lasting peace. The strength derived from a consistent workout will bring us enduring satisfaction. The better version of ourselves will carry us to the place of contentment for which we thirst.

The truth is, our journey toward self-improvement and fulfillment will never be enough. We will never be completely satisfied with the weight loss, or the raise, or the 4.0, or the promotion, or the diet, or a consistent practice of mindfulness and meditation. We may reach a temporary place of gratification. But, we will always find ourselves back in a place of dissatisfaction. Many of us will find ourselves back in that place of dissatisfaction before March even arrives.

We will always want more and we will always experience a tinge of need because we were designed to be part of God’s Kingdom and pursue Him and not ourselves.

The “religion” and “spirituality” that many practice today is one built around self-actualization. Multiple mediums are used to try and get to the center of oneself so that love and positive energy can take center stage.

First and foremost, God created all of these mediums. Nothing exists that was not created by God, even satan, himself was created by Him. Meditation, spirituality, energywork, yoga, Crossfit, the paleo lifestyle, coloring books, oils, you-name it! All of this was created by God. Satan cannot create – he can twist and pervert the intended purpose of these mediums, but he did not create them.

The purpose for which these practices were created has been twisted. We have begun using these methods to try and pursue and center our minds on our highest form of self. And our “self” will never be enough. Our better self will never be peaceful enough or strong enough to tame the storms of life. Our greatest versions of ourselves may look good and may feel good, but they will be temporary at best.

We were designed to use these methods to center ourselves on our Creator. God wants to take over this concept of self-betterment. There is no better version of us apart from surrendering to Him and centering our mind on His Truth.

So, this January, as we begin to cultivate a sense of newness and long to better our lives, let’s invite Him to lead that process. Let’s ask Him to be our motivator and our forerunner in all things change-worthy.

Yes, some of us need to lose weight. Some of us need to gain weight. Some of us need to clean our homes. Some of us need to exercise consistently. And some of us need to eat real food.

Let us also not disqualify mental, emotional and spiritual goals from entering into our scope of potential New Year resolutions. Some of us need to work on our marriages. Some of us need to get therapy. Some of us need to take a class at a community college or learn a new hobby. Some of us need to take a parenting class. And some of us need to challenge ourselves to lean into spiritual disciplines.

But, ultimately, we need to admit that all of these changes are temporary and that we will always have needs and lack beyond the resolution. We are imperfect. To enter into any spiritual practice or physical discipline that pursues ourselves over God is a waste of time simply because we will never be enough to sustain ourselves. We are imperfect and lacking in every way, which is the reality that we observe every January.

The better version of me will never be enough to earn me real satisfaction. It will always be short-lived. There are pieces of my current life that are change-worthy, and I hope to use this New Year as an opportunity to journey toward such change with the help of Holy Spirit. The “perfect” I was created to pursue is Jesus, Himself. Only through surrendering my life to Him am I made whole and given lasting satisfaction.

God wants us to journey toward health and wholeness. He designed us to live healthily and He rejoices when we make choices that promote wellness.  He gets excited each January as His children look at places in their lives where they can improve their wellbeing. He wants us to enjoy life. And He wants to come alongside us on the journey. He wants to be part of our goal development and our path toward achievement. He wants to be our coach and our strength in the process.

Let’s take some time to pray and ask God to guide our thoughts as we outline some practical goals for this next year. He can use these to tend the soil of our lives and grant us happiness in 2017 if we partner with Him and recognize that He has already met our most precious, eternal needs. And that He says we are enough regardless of goal accomplishment.

Prayer:

God, thank you for this New Year. I rejoice in the fact that you have satisfied my every need in You. Thank you for paying for my sin and for giving me eternal life. I greatly anticipate this New Year and everything You have planned. I know there will be hardships through which You will grow me. I know there will be celebrations through which I get to dance and sing alongside of You. And I know there will be deserts through which I have to work to center myself mentally and emotionally on Your presence and promises. I am excited that in the midst of this new season you are giving me an opportunity to better my life here on earth. I surrender my mind, will and emotions to You and ask that you would guide my thoughts as I begin to outline some personal goals for 2017. Thank You for wanting the best for me, Father. And thank You for reminding me that I am enough despite the outcome of these goals. 

DEFINE GOALS

Overarching Goal can be broad and more abstract while objectives must be concrete and measurable. Example, Overarching Relationship Goal: To strengthen my relationship with my daughter. Objective 1: Have a weekly breakfast date. Objective 2: Attend a mommy and me class once a month.

  • SPIRITUAL GOALS:
    • Overarching goal:
      • Objective 1:
      • Objective 2:
    • FAMILY/RELATIONSHIP GOALS:
      • Overarching goal:
        • Objective 1:
        • Objective 2:
    • MENTAL/EDUCATIONAL GOALS:
      • Overarching goal:
        • Objective 1:
        • Objective 2:
    • PHYSICAL GOALS:
      • Overarching goal:
        • Objective 1:
        • Objective 2:

“Where there is no vision, the people perish”

Proverbs 29:18

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