New Year’s resolutions: yesterday, today and tomorrow
In this article J John talks about the reality (or should that be unreality?) of making New Years resolutions. J John suggests that when thinking about a New Years resolution we can look in three directions: the past, the present and the future.
J John writes...
New Year is an opportunity to take an inventory of our lives and make resolutions for the year ahead, but most of us realise how unrealistic we are in those first few days of January, and how undisciplined we are at keeping resolutions. This can bring feelings of failure and disappointment before the year’s even started. January is named after the Roman god Janus, depicted as a two-faced man looking towards both the past and the future.
As we think about New Year’s resolutions we can look in three directions: at yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The Israelites were no strangers to looking back. They were constantly challenged to remember their heritage and God’s dealings with them. Moses encouraged them to: ‘Be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your hearts as long as you live’ (Deuteronomy 4:9).
Perhaps last year was one you don’t particularly want to remember, or was so good you’re worried it can’t continue. However much we might want a fresh start, the New Year doesn’t begin in a vacuum and people’s resolutions are often flawed because they don’t look backwards first. Spend some time remembering the past year – look through your calendar, diary or photos. What can you be thankful for? Or pleased about? What was hard? What did you learn? Which habits do you want to break? Which are good ones to keep going? If we don’t learn from the past we’ll probably find things repeating themselves.
However, God doesn’t intend us to live in the past. Looking back at his goodness should root us firmly in the rich soil of faith, an environment in which we can grow with him into new things. Paul knew all about this: ‘Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:13).
At New Year we also need to focus on where we’re going. When you make resolutions, think about where and what you want to be this time next year. What character traits do you want to have developed? Are there habits you want to have shaken off?
Remembering what you have learnt from the past year, what are you aiming at this year? To know your friends better? To have grown closer to God or your family? Who do you want to share the Good News of Jesus with this year? Tell your closest friend or write it down – and try and hold yourself to it.
In the light of your aims, how can you get there? What can you realistically do? If you want to grow in your relationship with God, don’t just resolve to spend an extra 15 minutes praying and reading your Bible. I’m not saying don’t stretch yourself – we should all set our sights high and work hard at the things we feel are most important – but be realistic and optimistic.
This New Year, face yesterday and all the last year was, face tomorrow and all that you want to do and to be in the year ahead, and face today – to work out how you’ll get there. Then turn to God above, with gratitude for your life in this new year.