I don’t really do New Years’ Resolutions, but I do like the idea of setting deliberate intentions. Even if they’re a few days late. Even if they’re not new intentions, just more focused and better defined intentions. More intentional intentions. More forgiveness. More thankfulness. More courage. More kindness. More focus in everything I do. More focus in choosing what I do, and choosing to not do everything.
I want to have an open heart and a focused mind. A creative spirit and disciplined routines. Maybe I want an impossible balance, but I want to find the ways to live out my life that bring out the best in me, so I have the best of me to offer to the people around me and to God.
I don’t think you can promise to change overnight, or switch track and direction just because the calendar changes. I do think you can make choices every day, whatever the day, that add up to show the direction your life is heading in – away from these attitudes and habits or towards these attitudes and habits. Your life will keep rolling on the track you are on whether you pay attention to where it’s heading or not. So you might as well pay attention.
A smart person I know in real life blogs over at St Eutychus, and wrote a long, detailed blog about these kinds of resolutions – these kinds of intentions that slowly shape your life. Here’s a part I liked from it. If you have the time, read the whole thing here.
“Sometimes we’re pretty small when it comes to our sense of what can be achieved through making these seemingly small habitual changes. Sometimes our focus is just on what we can change about ourselves. And that’s boring and inward looking; and perhaps it’s also ineffective if, perhaps, the best way to change ourselves is actually to look outwards and ‘offer ourselves as a living sacrifice’… What was on your list? Eating healthy (yeah, that’s on mine too). Exercising more. Sleeping more. Doing bits and pieces from the lists above when it comes to how you fill your head… that’s all good stuff. But it’s a bit lame, and probably much the same as everyone else. What should our list look like if we’re becoming a ‘new self’? What does it look like not to focus on ‘self-improvement’ but ‘self sacrifice’ that’s both ‘in view of God’s mercy’ and in some sense a ‘view of God’s mercy’; a demonstration of what it looks like to be transformed into the image of Christ. The new you, as a Christian, is a pretty big deal… but it’s not a thing you build by yourself, it’s an act of God that happens in us as our ‘worship’ changes.”
Changing track isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to happen overnight. It happens as you live worshiping Jesus instead of the hundreds of other things we could worship instead. We live into the new self, easing in day by day, habit by habit. You don’t have to give up when you wobble for a moment. It’s about the overall intention and direction your life is heading – towards Jesus and all that living a life following him means, or away from it, towards other things. Each choice you make feeds into that progression of the story of your life.
So I am choosing these things this year. Forgiveness. Thankfulness. Courage. Kindness. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. I am choosing Jesus, again and again. I am setting my feet and my face and my heart in his direction and walking steadily onwards, whatever the cost.