Longer-Lasting, Farther-Reaching: Old First E-pistle 12.27.12

Longer-Lasting, Farther-Reaching: Old First E-pistle 12.27.12

About now, we start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Most come up with a thing or two we’d like — even know we need — to change. But they tend to be sort of one-stop, quick fixes. Transformation lite, you might say. ‘Bewitched wiggles her nose and voila’ sorts of changes. “I’m going to more drink green tea this year” or “I’m going to take the stairs instead of the elevator starting in 2013.”

And we do, for a time. But sooner than we want most people to know, we’ve fallen away from our new habits. A recent study found that 78% of those who made resolutions failed. And our inability to see our resolve through often leaves us more dispirited than before we began.

The example that tickles me is the crowd at the gym. at 6 p.m. on January 2. There’s not a weight that’s free nor a machine to be used. Everyone’s there. And mostly in new workout clothes. Even the soles of their shoes are still clean.

But a week or so later, the gym’s back to normal. The crowd might even be a little lighter than usual. The gym floor won’t be that busy again until the first warm, sunny day of spring threatens swimsuit weather around the corner.

Last year at this time, I pointed out that resolutions are akin to the religious movements of confession — repentance, the forsaking of sin, amendment of wrongs… on the way to pardon and new life. When humans are given a chance for a new beginning — afforded such a hope even just by the accounting tricks of the calendar — that chance pushes us to grasp for improvement. We dare examining our lives for where they could be better. We resolve to remedy the rough spots. We try again. Try to be better.

For religious folk, there’s an added benefit: we don’t feel we have to do this all alone… we believe God wants to help us on this way.

Still, I’m going to try something different this year. Instead of choosing a quick fix, something I could change on Jan. 1 as if with the flip of a switch, I’m going to think bigger, consider longer-term goals. Rather than what can be accomplished overnight, what could I accomplish if I took some time and effort over the long-haul. Even thinking that way ups the ante.

Giving yourself a number of steps, maybe even some staging and intermediate goals. Deciding that this involves introspection, some real soul-searching. And some changes for which there might be resistance deep inside of you. It’s going to take some time. And effort. And will be worth the investment…

Suddenly, New Year’s Resolutions become much more than self-improvement. They become about growing and maturing. Where would you like to be… not on Jan. 1, 2013, but a year from then. Give yourself a year’s assignment to figure out and put in place all that you have to do be where you want to be on Jan. 1, 2014!

Write down what you mean to accomplish. Then begin to back out the steps and intermediate goals. What do you need to work on? Which relationships do you need to change? How will you need to restructure your days, weeks, months, life?

All of a sudden, life is no longer just as a (endless) series of days to get through. Instead, it’s become an opportunity to build, to become, to make happen. to do something. That’s more the way God means when we are given life, eh?

Let me know what you’re working on, and I will let you know what I’m working on. And maybe we can help each other towards getting there by 2014!

See you in church,

Michael