The Spirituality of New Year's Resolutions

We've all made them and failed miserably at them. So do we give them up? Do we throw away the whole concept? We need to know the spirituality of making New Year's Resolutions. Because there's a soul-struggle between our resolutions and our fear of failure; we need some perspective. Let's restore faith in our New Year's Resolutions. 

Here's 5 reasons why making New Year's Resolutions are spiritual and good for our souls. 

1. Driving a Stake in the Ground is Good for the Soul.

Remember Gandolf slamming his staff into the ground and declaring, rather loudly, "You shall not pass!" ? It was overwhelming and declarative and gutsy and awesome. We all need those moments where we say: Enough.

No more weight shall be gained. No more standing on the sidelines. No more wondering about our dreams. No more binge drinking or binge shopping or binge yelling or binge whatevering. New Year's Resolutions are a chance to say: I'm getting healthy. I'm getting in the game. I'm getting on the path to my dreams. I'm getting off the crazy train. I'm getting counseling. 

New Year's Resolutions are when we drive a stake in the ground and decide. And deciding is quite spiritual. Didn't David decide to kill Goliath with God's help? Didn't Moses decide to trust God and part the Red Sea? Didn't Mary decide to tell Gabriel Yes? And deciding to do something by faith is certainly spiritual. It means movement. Not stagnancy. Like faith, a resolution is a verb, requiring steps into unknown territory. 

I had a friend drive a stake in the ground about making his bed. Every day from now on. Seems simple and possibly silly, but that day started a ball rolling of getting his life under control and eventually losing over 100 pounds. Small decisions led to healthy living. 

2. Our Souls Long for The New.

It is deep in our soul to want to have clean slates and new paths. To want new. In our brokenness and our busted up world, we crave new. New makes us feel good, from new shoes to new relationships, we love new. New promises clean and special and unmarred. So looking at the New Year and making some new decisions can most definitely be out of faith, hope and love. Reaching for the new is part of being a broken human being. Yes, we often reach for the wrong kinds of new, but the reach is still a spiritual act from the depth of our soul.  

3. God Loves Fresh Starts.

Fresh starts are God's jam. At one point God tells the Israelites that He will make a whole new covenant with them. He talks about taking soiled, filthy rags, and making them white as snow, as if brand new. He did a new thing and stopped all lamb sacrifices when He sent His Son to be the final, once for all sacrifice. He tells us He will make all things new when it's all said and done. He will even make a new heaven and a new earth:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying:

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man,
and He will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and there will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain,
for the former things have passed away.”
And the One seated on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
— Revelation 21

 

4. Getting Back Up is Spiritual. 

We will fail in our resolutions. But getting back up? That's just as good as the decision itself.  To keep deciding, that's grit and virtue and self control and resilience for our souls. Jesus got back up. From the very grave. But he had to go down before He got up. He didn't go down in failure, but He went down none the less. And this is the most spiritual thing that Christianity is built upon. Getting back up. So as we fail in our resolutions, and yet get back up, we are living in the grace of God. His power is made perfect in our weakness, says St. Paul. So we can even boast in our weakness, and in the King, as we are rising up. 

5. Making Resolutions Can Be Done in Faith.

By faith last year I made a New Years' Resolution: I will get closer to teaching what God has me teach, to sharing messages that He puts on my heart, to writing a book. 

And from that resolve I then made decisions. I asked for a phone number of an author I respect. I called her and talked with her about her journey. I signed up for a conference. I went. I interviewed with 2 publishers. I got advice and insight and I wrote a book proposal. When asked, I have taught sermons by faith. I am closer and know a bit more. Because of a resolution. Was it perfectly executed? No. Did I write on every single Sunday afternoon, as I resolved? Nope. Did I fail? Yep. But am I closer? Yes. Is it all by faith, trusting the Good Shepherd and how He leads? Yes. It is. Resolutions can absolutely be done in faith. 

 

So have at it, friends! Let's make New Year's Resolutions without fear of failure and by faith in the King. Let's be brave and get better and try and fall and get back up and cheer each other on and wipe off the mud and keep going together by grace in the new year. 

 

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
— Jeremiah 31: 31-34