I’ve never been great at keeping New Year’s resolutions. Like many people, I start off with a list of noble intentions. I’ll eat healthier, be more organized, run four times a week, read the Bible more, write more letters, and volunteer more. About half the time these resolutions result in some kind of positive action that usually lasts for a few weeks, then fizzles into guilty oblivion. One year I tallied up 43 resolutions. Needless to say, I failed miserably in keeping even one.
Don’t get me wrong–I think it’s beneficial to step back and take a look at the things we’d like to do differently in a new season of life. Replacing bad habits with good ones is a worthy pursuit. Re-evaluating priorities and carving out time for the people and activities that are most important to us is necessary in balancing life. But if you’re anything like me, you can too easily create an unrealistic picture of what you want your life to look like, and then run yourself ragged in trying to keep up with it. For me personally, I struggle with this notion of always resolving to do more.
Be more disciplined.
Stop doing this.
Do more of that.
It doesn’t take long for me to feel defeated when I fail to live up to my self-imposed (and usually self-righteous) expectations. Paul’s words narrate this inner battle of my heart:
…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing…..So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7: 18-25)
It’s not that I don’t want to do the right thing — it’s that I am powerless in my own strength to do it. Grace rescues me from this battle, but I am still learning to fall into grace’s net. So I’m trying something new this year. Rather than creating a list of desired behaviors and accomplishments I would like to achieve this year, I am flipping New Year’s resolutions upside-down.
If I could sum up my desire for this year in one word, it would be this:
Instead of resolving to do, I will choose to surrender.
Rather than trying to fit the square shape of my own skills and ideas into a round hole of opportunity, I choose to become clay, to be surrendered to the Potter’s hands. I want Him to mold me into the shape He desires in order to fill in the places He chooses.
I choose to surrender my time and my comfort when it is least convenient for me — like when my child needs some extra time to talk heart-to-heart in the midst of my own agenda.
I yield my heart to the warmth of my Savior’s love, even when it is frosted over with bitterness and disappointment.
I will give a sacrifice of praise even when my heart burns with sadness.
I surrender each choice I make–what I consume, what I give, how I spend each hour, how I care for my body, the words that I speak, and the attitude of my heart.
I will not do these things perfectly, but in a continual posture of surrender, my prayer is that there would be less of me and more of Him.
“Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'” (Luke 9:23)