I admit it: I’m a New Year’s resolution junkie. While I don’t excel at actually keeping my resolutions for the long haul, I love the process of creating them. (I’m not alone on either count: nearly half of Americans regularly create New Year’s resolutions, but of those goal-setters only half keep them for six months or longer.)
Part of my enthusiasm for holing away with a pen and my journal is simply my personality; for you fellow Myers-Briggs aficionados, I’m a big-time J. I feel most settled when I can draft daily to-do lists and relish in the sense of planning and accomplishment. (Another confession: I’ve been known to jot down “brush teeth” just for the thrill of checking it off.) So the annual opportunity to draft a great big to-do list at New Year’s is right up my type-J alley.
If you’re a resolution-junkie like me—or even if you’re just thinking about how to recover from holiday cookie consumption—chances are that one of your current goals is likely health-related, such as a new workout regimen or a weight-loss goal. But beyond just numbers on a scale or a dress size we want to fit into, how can our food and fitness goals connect to our faith? In “A Healthier Year, Body and Soul,” Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian shares some of her own struggle with body-image issues and highlights how her relationship with Christ has given her a more whole and healthy perspective on fitness and food. And in “Pursuing God, Pursuing Fitness,” author Trillia Newbell draws from her experience as a fitness instructor to provide practical insights for making—and keeping—solid exercise goals.
My nerdy-J-ness aside, I love this season because of the chance to focus and reflect on the past year, evaluating where God has been at work in my life. I love this chance to pause and listen, to seek out where God may be nudging me to grow or change, and then to lean on his help as I zero in on spiritual goals. In this sense, creating New Year’s resolutions can be quite like the spiritual discipline of examen, which involves prayerful selfexamination, seeking God’s guidance and conviction, then relying on us while also making a concerted effort on our end to grow and to change. What will this new year hold for you when it comes to your relationship with God? In “A Different Kind of New Year’s Resolution,” Renee James invites you to look closely and see God at work in your life—even in hardship or weakness—and to consider how God may be drawing you closer to himself.
Perhaps the deepest appeal of New Year’s for me is a motivation we can all unite around—even those of you who are spontaneous and who cringe at the notion of making lists and charting goals. This new page on the calendar—this fresh year stretching before us—resonates with a spiritual reality we all experience and celebrate: In Christ, we’re invited into a new life!
In Christ, we are changed—and that reality is made poignantly clear in the life story of Annie Lobert, a former prostitute. In “Though I Make My Bed in Hell,” she shares her testimony of how God radically changed her life and now works through her to touch the lives of others in the sex industry.
God’s work of renewal and fresh starts isn’t only for us as individuals; we can see his miraculous work in our relationships as well. Jeannie C. Iseman experienced a new start as God powerfully healed her painfully broken marriage; she describes her experience in “Our Marriage Was Over.”
Our God is in the business of clean slates, of fresh starts, of new beginnings. Old failures no longer need nip at our heels; past sins need no longer frame our sense of identity. Our God whose mercies “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23, NIV) invites us into clean-slate lives. Not just this season, but every day of our lives we are being made new—forgiven, shaped, empowered, led, changed, called, and sent forth.
Grace for your new year,
Confessions of a Resolution Junkie
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